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Ilari 'Ziigmund' Sahamies, 26, is one of the most famous high stakes pot-limit Omaha players in the world. Ilari made his mark in the high stakes world, initially, as a wildly aggressive player who loved to gamble, drink, and poke fun at his high stakes opponents. His introduction to poker came at the age of 15, when he participated in a home game at fellow Finnish poker pro Patrik Antonius' home after meeting at a local billiard hall where he was a champion. With his trademark cleanly shaven head, Ilari has become a fixture in the highest PLO games in the world since 2006. His game and life have matured over the years and he now has ownership stakes in and PowerPoker as well as being seen regularly on high stakes TV poker shows. When not traveling around the world for poker, he resides in Helsinki, Finland. In conjunction with the exclusive Poker Curious Ziigmund bounty freeroll on PowerPoker March 21st, Ilari took a few minutes to answer some of our questions.
David 'Gaucho2121' Paredes, 30, is a Harvard graduate, law school graduate, and has worked at a New York hedge fund. He also happens to be a darn good poker player. He has played online and live poker since 2004. Success in poker paid for his law school education and supplements his other high profile career ambitions. He recently reached his first TV final table in the inaugural NAPT Venetian main event. He finished in 5th for $184k when his aces were cracked by the chip leader's jacks all in pre-flop. He resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his long time girlfriend, who is in her medical school residency there. He is currently playing poker while exploring new opportunities in the financial fields.
Maria 'Maridu' Mayrinck, 30, is a well known PokerStars professional from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has built up her roll and climbed the poker ladder over the past few years to become one of the most liked players on the circuit. In March 2009, she took 3rd in the Full Tilt Sunday Mulligan for $29k and just returned home from 7 months playing poker around the world. Having been featured on ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker multiple times she is now taking her game to new heights. She is a consummate professional and a wonderful ambassador for the game and you also quickly come to realize that poker is her passion and is in her blood.
Jordan 'Scarface_79' Smith, 28, has been playing professional poker for the past 7 years. In 2009, he won his first WSOP bracelet in Event #36 for $586k and then followed that up with a 10th place finish in the Main Event for another $896k. He has also posted great results online over the past few years, most notably winning the Full Tilt Sunday Mulligan, chopping the PokerStars Sunday Million and a 4th place finish in the WCOOP event #33 for another $84. He resides in College Station, Texas when he's not traveling for poker.
Christian Kruel, 29, is the top Brazilian all time online money list leader for poker with over $1 million in career tournament earnings. He has been playing extensively since a fateful 1999 trip to Las Vegas to compete in a backgammon tournament. He found himself drawn to the poker tables and by the end of the week he was hooked. Christian worked hard for two years, in the pre-poker boom era, to perfect his game without the resources available today. 2005 was a breakout year for him with three WPT live final tables under his belt. Combine that with his consistently strong online resume and it is easy to understand why he has become one of the best known and most respected players from Brazil over recent years. CK continues to dominate poker in 2010 having already performed well at the PCA Caribbean and winning multiple online tournaments! We sat down with CK recently to learn more about his poker and life success.
Dusty 'Leatherass' Schmidt, the high stakes grinder, returns to Poker Curious to discuss his first book "Treat Your Poker Like A Business."
Joao 'joaoMathias' Mathias Baumgarten, 25, is the number two ranked Brazilian player in the world, both online and offline. He lives in the south of Brazil, in Porto Alegre. Joao finished 4th in the PokerStars Sunday Million in November for $90,770 and followed that up with a win in the Party Poker $100K High Roller Tournament for an additional $29,970. He has also won the $1k on Full Tilt. With the growing number of Brazilian members at Poker Curious, we are pleased to contribute his insight into the poker world while sharing his rise up through the ranks to become one of the most successful and feared players.
Vanessa 'PrincessDonk' Peng, 26, is a professional poker player residing in Las Vegas. I came to know Vanessa when she was learning cash games at CardRunners. She had a very competitive desire to get better and built up to being a 2/4 and 3/6 6max regular. In May 2009, she re-evaluated her game and thanks to the influence of Jason 'NovaSky' Koon, she shifted to playing MTT's as her main focus. He acted as a mentor to her in her transition. In her first week, she won outright the UB$80k Sniper and PokerStars $11r for $35k combined. She also has had an outright win in the Stars Nightly Hundred Grand and final tabled the Sunday Second Chance. Now coming off her biggest month ever in November where she had seven MTT scores between $8k and $18k which includes a first place showing in PokerStars $55r. On December 2nd she won both the PokerStars $109 buyin $40K guaranteed and the $30K guaranteed on UB for over $23k combined. Then, on December 14th, she chopped the UB 80k Sniper for the equivalent of 1st place prize of $22.2k along with a 2nd place showing in the UB $20k DS for $4.7k and a 2nd place showing in the UB 100 (1r+1a) for almost $7k for a total of $34k. I thought it was a good time to hear her perspective on her journey in poker so far.
Jason 'NovaSky/jakoon1985' Koon, 24, is a professional tournament player who resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. He started playing poker in 2005 but didn't really jump into it full time until after he had gotten his MBA in 2008. 2009 has been a massive year for Jason. In March, he won the $1K Monday on Full Tilt Poker in March for $93k and took second in the UB $200k. In April, he had his biggest score ever when he won the 2009 PokerStars SCOOP 2k Cubed for $302k and won the Sunday Mulligan. He recently finished third in the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza IV in late November for nearly $62k. He has lifetime winnings of over $900K. What caught my attention to this player was his influence on a friend of mine. He became a mentor of sorts to Vanessa 'PrincessDonk' Peng, leading her from the cash game world into the MTT world with some really nice results. I thought it would be nice to interview each of them to see both sides of the mentor/mentored relationship.
Hunter 'BeachJustice' Bick, 28, represents an important part of the poker population. A solid mid stakes winner and poker professional who balances his playing with coaching and teaching others. We are accustomed to hearing about those whiz kids that shoot up out of nowhere to make millions almost over night, but they are a rare minority and can often flame out just as easily. While he has won as much at $100k in a single month or had $25k days, the typical monthly totals are more modest. Hunter is married and lives in Charlotte. He makes a good living from playing, but it often goes under the poker media radar. He has spent the last few months building a new training site, DragTheBar to continue to hone his teaching and business skills. We thought it was a good time to understand his perspective about the game.
Andrew 'luckychewy' Lichtenberger, 21, is a young rising star in the poker world. He started in the cash game world, but got bored with ring games when he moved to $3-6. He turned his focus to tournament play and has had some great live and online results. In the 2009 WSOP, he was the runner-up in the $5K NLH Shootout and placed 18th in the Main Event for a combined score of over $750K. Andrew now plays $25/50 or higher on a regular basis while still playing tournaments. He is an instructor at LeggoPoker and resides in Bethesda, Maryland.
Martin 'DrGiggy' Giguere, 21, is a young aggressive cash games specialist hailing from Quebec City, Canada. He started focusing on $100 NL cash games in early 2007 after a $5k score in a tournament and has never looked back. He plays with a unique ultra aggressive style that has seen him rocket up the cash levels to playing predominately $5/10 and $10/20. He has won over $500k in his short career playing online. He is an instructor at Bluefirepoker, the training site that launched in the spring of 2009. He is also an avid hockey fan and golfer.
David "HeyImDro" Rowan, 22, currently resides in South Lake Tahoe, California. He dropped out of college to pursue his dream of full time poker while allowing time for skiing and sailing. While he began in cash games, winning the Sunday Mulligan in September of 2007 propelled David to focus on tournaments. He has won the Nightly 100K on Stars and placed 4th in a couple big $1K events while racking up over $800k in lifetime tournament winnings. He is a lead instructor at the new training site, DragTheBar.
Dani 'Ansky' Stern, 22, is an online high stakes player who is a member of the poker team currently being featured on the hit G4 show '2 Months. 2 Million.' He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and attended McGill University in Montreal. Dani has had success at both tournaments, coming in 4th place in the 2009 WSOP $40k buy in event for $540,000 and cash games playing as high as $500/1000 but more regularly $25/50. He is a new instructor at DeucesCracked. He currently lives in New York City.
Cliff 'JohnnyBax' Josephy, 43, is an online poker legend. In the early days of online poker ranking on, when he played a greater volume of tournaments, he was ranked the no. 1 player in the world for over a year. He won a bracelet in the 2005 WSOP in the $1500 seven-card stud event and has done well in numerous WPT events. He took 2nd in the 2006 Aruba Classic for nearly 500k, and third in the $5k PLO event at this summer's WSOP. He has lifetime winnings of nearly $3 million. He and his friend Eric 'Sheets' Haber were the first big stars associated with an MTT focused training site, PokerXFactor and continue to create top quality videos for students there. He was a former successful stock broker who departed that stressful world once he discovered his love and talent for poker. He is an avid family man who resides in Syosset, New York.
Have you ever wondered if you could balance a business career and high stakes poker? Have you ever wondered if you can start playing poker in your mid 30's and still achieve great success? Eric 'Sheets' Haber, 42, is a shining example of someone who has done both. While Eric may not sleep as much as the rest of us, he is a successful hedge fund manager in New York and manages both poker and work with his family life. In February 2008, he won the $5,150 NLHE WSOP Atlantic City Circuit event. He is a lead instructor, along with Cliff 'JohnnyBax' Josephy at, the online poker training site.
Alex 'assassinato' Fitzgerald, 21, has walked his friends and followers through every step of his online poker experience. From the age of 17, he knew he wanted to become a poker professional. He has detailed his poker journey in his popular blog 'Random Thoughts From A Seattle Poker Pro'. He is a well respected poker writer and instructor at PokerPwnage with over one million in earnings between live and online, with cashes on four different continents. These days he can be found traveling throughout Europe and Asia, using Malta as his base as he travels to various EPT and APT events.
Aaron 'aejones' Jones, 21, is one of the most entertaining and controversial young high stakes poker players online. His videos on Leggo Poker training site are the most popular by far, with equal parts for the strategy he shares, the confidence he exudes and the verbal sparring he engages in. On his popular blog, he shares his results as well as his aspirations and reflections. This past week he stepped up from his usual 25/50 stakes to take on the highest stakes online, 500/1k, and crushed it for a $614,251.65 win over 930 hands, in one day.
Jason 'pr1nnyraid' Rosenkrantz, 25, is what I call a poker renaissance man. He is no stranger to playing the highest stakes online, having been the biggest cash game winner on Full Tilt Poker in 2007 for 2.2 million. He is a founder and executive producer at DeucesCracked, one of the most respected poker training sites. He is a screen writer. And now he is about to become a reality TV star. He and three of his high stakes friends debut this Sunday on G4 at 9 pm ET with their poker reality show '2 Months 2 Million'. They lived the summer in a massive classic style mansion pursuing their collective dream to make 2 million or die trying.
Poker Curious pro CJ 'Rex55' spent 80 minutes answering questions from Poker Curious members in our chat room Monday Aug. 10th. Read our edited interview version.
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