Thursday, 23rd May 2024 14:49
Home / Poker / EPT Prague 2023: Final table player profiles

After five days of play, the EPT Prague Main Event reached its final table on Saturday afternoon and trimmed its record-breaking field of 1,285 entries to its last five players. Read some more about them in our final table player profiles.

They will play to a winner on Sunday, from 12pm local time.

Seat 1: Cheng Zhao, 35, from Beijing, lives in Athens – 8.125 million

Cheng Zhao

Cheng Zhao is a real estate agent who considers himself a semi-pro poker player, specializing solely in tournaments. He is, however, ready to declare himself a full-time pro following his deep run here at EPT Prague.

Originally from Beijing, China, Cheng relocated his family to Athens, Greece, in 2018 and lives there still with his wife and 10-year-old son. Living in the EU makes traveling the EPT circuit easier and Cheng says he plans to compete at every stop next year.

Here in the EPT Main Event, Cheng’s main focus has been on staying composed and maintaining a stable mentality. This is his first major final table, and the 35-year-old called the experience “a dream come true”.

Seat 2: Adam Wagner, 30, Prague, Czech Republic – 2.76 million

Adam Wagner

Home hope Adam Wagner is originally from Ceske Budejovice in the southern Czech Republic, but now lives here in Prague. He used to be a professional poker player some years ago but eventually chose a different career path. The 30-year-old is now finishing a doctorate degree in law, leaving him little spare time. However, he still mentions football as a hobby.

Not relying on poker income has proved advantageous for Wagner’s mindset. He says he hasn’t felt any stress throughout the EPT Main Event journey. This was the only tournament he wanted to play here at the festival and, being out of the game for quite some time, he hadn’t expected to make it this far.

With the pay- jumps getting steep, Wagner admitted that on Day 5 he finally started to experience a bit of pressure. But he’s still been mostly enjoying himself at the table, knowing this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Should he go all the way, Wagner can become the second Czech champion after Jan Skampa, who won the EPT Prague Main Event in 2009.

Seat 3: Jon Kyte, 29, Bergen, Norway – 22.875 million

Jon Kyte

Jon Kyte’s poker career took off six years ago in this very city, where he captured the Norwegian Poker Championship title along with €240,000. While it remains Kyte’s biggest payday to date, he’s now inching towards setting a new high score.

Inching may not be the right word as Kyte has taken the EPT Prague Main Event by storm, bagging back-to-back day-end leads on Days 3 and 4 before knocking out three players early into Day 5. Kyte has eased his way to the final table, never relinquishing the chip lead through the entire penultimate day.

His stack of close to 23 million, nearly 15 million more than his closest challenger, possibly represents the biggest chip lead coming into the final day of any EPT Main Event.

If there was a place for Kyte to reach his first EPT final table, it had to be Prague. Last year, he finished fourth in the Eureka Main Event, winning €131,900 in the same tournament room. Having locked up his third six-figure cash in the Czech capital, Kyte has eyes on the top prize. He can become Norway’s fourth EPT champion – and first in 13 years – following Bjørn-Erik Glenne, Andreas Høivold, and Kevin Stani.

Seat 4: Padraig O’Neill, 34 – Drumlish, Ireland – 1.265 million

Padraig O’Neill

Carrying the hopes of the enthusiastic Irish poker community, Padraig O’Neill — known to all as “Smidge” — comes to the final table at EPT Prague a little more than a decade after bursting onto the scene during the early days of the UKIPT.

O’Neill picked up early cashes in Dublin and Newcastle before delivering on his promise back in the Irish capital in 2012. He made the final table, finishing fifth, but with the endorsement of even the eventual winner, who said O’Neill was the best player there.

Since then, O’Neill has steadily progressed through the stakes and picked up tournament cashes across the world. He has been a pro for several years but is eyeing what could potentially be a new biggest tournament score.

The deep run has come at both the very best and the very worst time: O’Neill’s wife Ciara gave birth to their first child Fionn around six months ago, meaning the new father is obviously missing his family, even as he earns them a tremendous payday. Fionn doesn’t yet have a passport (and is a little way short of the age limit for spectators) so family is supporting only from afar.

This is O’Neill’s first overseas trip since the new arrival, and he was due home yesterday. However, he has now joined the long list of poker players who have had to rearrange pre-booked flights for the best reason.

There’s no doubt that the poker fans of Ireland will be following O’Neill’s progress closely. In close to 20 years of the EPT’s existence, Steve O’Dwyer is the only Irishman to win a Main Event. Another win is long overdue and the man proudly representing “Middle of Nowhere, Ireland” (actually, Drumlish, County Longford) could end the wait.

Seat 5: Umberto Ruggeri, 30, Rome, Italy – 3.41 million

Umberto Ruggeri

Umberto Ruggeri has played poker for nearly 15 years and is now a poker pro. He is mostly an online MTT grinder, but says he also played two or three live events this year. Ruggeri finished 91st in the EPT Barcelona Main Event, earning €20,550, but his second cash will be much bigger. He is already guaranteed a six-figure prize here in Prague.

Ruggeri pointed to his double up against Grigorii Rodin on Day 4 a key moment in the tournament. After the turned flush which kept him alive, he says he gained confidence and started playing his best.

Ruggeri says he now feels like he is equipped to play in these tournaments regularly and already looks forward to traveling to all the EPTs next season. But while it may seem poker occupies nearly all of his time, the 30-year-old is also active on multiple fronts: he owns two Bed & Breakfast spots in Rome, where he regularly works.


Study Poker with Pokerstars Learn, practice with the PokerStars app