The Final Table:
1. Floyd Vanderford New Orleans, LA 65,000
2. Check Kelley Staunton, VA 142,000
3. Lou Esposito Howard Beach, NY 116,000
4. Timothy “TK” Miles Tallahassee, FL 687,000
5. Jeff Tims Houston, TX 345,000
6, Ed Jatho Abita Springs, LA 406,000
7. Marc Fratter Murphy, TX 311,000
8. Gabe Costner Albertville, AL 166,000
9. Nick Ceci Peachtree City, GA 256,000
SEAT 1: Floyd Vanderford
HOMETOWN: New Orleans, LA
CHIP COUNT: 65,000
Floyd Vanderford is a 39-year-old general contractor from right here in New Orleans. This is his first-ever in-the-money finish in a major poker tournament. In fact, this is the first major tournament Vanderford has ever entered. He qualified to play in this championship event at a cost of just $50, which bought him into a satellite tournament held inside the Harrahs Poker Room last month. That won him a seat into another satellite tournament, which he won – and now here he is at the final table playing for nearly $400,000. Vanderford has a big challenge ahead today as the shortest stack. But, he would probably agree that he is already a “winner” no matter what happens.
SEAT 2: Chuck Kelley
HOMETOWN: Staunton, VA
CHIP COUNT: 142,000
Chuck Kelley is a 47-year-old real estate manager from Staunton, VA. He is an alumnus of Clemson University. With his cash in this tournament, Kelley is guaranteed to pass a personal poker milestone. He will now have over $1 million in career poker tournament winnings. Kelley’s best finish so far was second place at the Borgata Poker Classic in Atlantic City last year. Today, he hopes to achieve his first major victory.
SEAT 3: Lou “The Big Easy” Esposito
HOMETOWN: Howard Beach, NY
CHIP COUNT: 116,000
Lou Esposito is a 32-year-old professional poker player from Howard Beach, NY. If his name sounds familiar here at Harrahs, it’s because Esposito is the defending champion of this tournament, which he won last year. Esposito won the 2007 Bayou Poker Challenge championship, which earned him more than $516,000. If you wonder why Esposito is called “The Big Easy,” it’s because New Orleans has been very good to him. He not only won in 2007, he also made it to the final table of the Bayou Winter Challenge, held right here last December. This makes three straight final table appearances for Esposito here in New Orleans. He also has over $1 million in career tournament cashes. Here’s a scary fact – he only started playing poker in 2006.
SEAT 4: Thomas “TK” Miles
HOMETOWN: Tallahassee, FL
CHIP COUNT: 687,000
TK Miles is a 29-year-old professional gambler from Tallahassee, FL. He says he was “born a gambler, and will die a gambler.” Well, so far so good. Miles currently holds the chip lead at this final table. He has three major tournament victories, including winning a gold ring at the 2007 Bayou Winter Challenge. He was also named “Rounder of the Year” by a leading poker magazine last year.
SEAT 5: Jeff Tims
HOMETOWN: Houston, TX
CHIP COUNT: 345,000
Jeff Tims is a 25-year-old poker pro from Houston, TX. He won Event #12 at this year’s Bayou Poker Challenge, good for nearly $60,000 in prize money. Prior to turning pro, Tims was a small business owner. This is his fifth major poker tournament final table appearance. When he is not playing poker, Tims enjoys golfing, watching movies, and reading.
SEAT 6: Ed Jathro
HOMETOWN: Abita Springs, LA
CHIP COUNT: 406,000
Ed Jatho is a financial consultant from Abita Springs, LA. He says he is 59 years old, and counting. He is a former U.S. Marine helicopter pilot. In fact, his father, brother, son, and nephew are all former Marines – and he has a son on active duty as a Navy Lieutenant. He wants to say hello to his wife Sharon, and five sons and two daughters. This is Jathro’s first final table appearance at a major poker tournament.
SEAT 7: Marc Fratter
HOMETOWN: Murphy, TX
CHIP COUNT: 311,000
Marc Fratter is a 36-year-old attorney from Murphy, TX. He has a three-year-old daughter named Kate who loves to play poker with her dad. Fratter was the co-champion of the 2007 Caesars Indiana Poker Championship. He won $117,000 in that tournament. He also cashed in the 2007 Red River Roundup. This is his third time to cash in a major tournament.
SEAT 8: Gabe Costner
HOMETOWN: Originally Albertville, AL and now Long Beach, MS
CHIP COUNT: 166,000
Gabe Costner is a 31-year-old professional poker player. He was a stock broker before turning pro. Costner has over $178,000 in career tournament winnings, but still is primarily known as a cash-game player. An interesting side note about Costner is that once when he was asked what he would like to see change in poker, he answered: “I would take the emphasis off tournament poker and give more credit to the cash players that play everyday and make up the group that consist of the best poker players.” Should Costner win this tournament today, we’ll be sure to ask him again what he thinks about tournament winners getting all the glory.
SEAT 9: Nick Ceci
HOMETOWN: Peachtree, GA
CHIP COUNT: 256,000
Nick Ceci is a 38-year-old demo contractor from Peachtree, GA. He has been happily married 12 years. He has three children – ages 13, 10, and 5. He says he took a few years off from playing poker because his wife was seriously ill. But things are better now and Ceci is back to playing poker. He has already made one final table at this year’s Bayou Poker Challenge. He took eighth place in the $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event.
Blinds are 4,000-8,000 with a 1,000 ante. There is 19:47 remaining in Level 14.
On Wednesday May 21st, the final table begins at 2 pm CST inside the Harrahs Theatre. Video coverage of the final table will be shown at the official WSOP website (www.worldseriesofpoker) and will be carried by Bluff Media starting at 3 pm CST.
Former Bayou Poker Challenge Champions:
2007 (winter) – Andy Philachack
2007 (spring) – Lou Esposito
2006 – Peter Feldman
2005 – Walter Chambers
2004 – Boulos Estafanous
For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
Or visit our official website: www.worldseriesofpoker.com
Harrah’s New Orleans Poker Room Manager – Rick Korte
Bayou Poker Challenge Tournament Director – Raymond Gasser
Jeffrey Pollack – Commissioner, WSOP
Ty Stewart – Director, Sponsorship and Licensing, WSOP
Craig Abrahams – Director, Broadcasting and New Media, WSOP
Seth Palansky – Director of Communications, WSOP