PARTYPOKER.COM MILLION V FINAL TABLE BIOS
Kenna James, 42, is a well-liked poker pro, who is generally distinguished by his stylish black cowboy hat and his welcoming smile. James first became known as an up-and-coming West Coast player, with early successes at such hometown casinos as Hollywood Park and Commerce Casino. In 2003, he began his climb to widespread recognition when he made 16 final tables, winning half of them, including his initial large first-place payday at the Four Queens Poker Classic ($30,030). But with four different in-the-money finishes at the 2003 World Series of Poker and $65,000 in total winnings, he was on his way.
In 2004, he won the California State Poker Championship No Limit Shootout ($23,175) and finished third in the Crown Australasian Poker Championship in Melbourne, Australia, for $101,625. Shortly thereafter, he got his first check from a World Poker Tour event, taking 9th at the Doyle Brunson North American Championship in Las Vegas for $42,000.
But 2005 proved to be a watershed year for James. He finished 44th in the WSOP main event for $235,390 and then won the WPTâs Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino before a hometown crowd, netting $588,210. He then claimed $100,000 for a 7th place finish at the Monte Carlo Million. In February of this year, the Chicago native won the $2,500 No Limit Holdâem event at Commerce Casinoâs LA Poker Classic for $242,251.
Affable and respected, he is known for his low-key sense of humor and good natured poker demeanor. James is married to one of the pioneering women poker pros, Marsha Waggoner, whom he met at the Hollywood Park Casino. They live in Las Vegas and Southern California.
Scott Buller,49, is the first player ever to make two PartyPoker.com Million final tables. He took home $67,673 the first time around at the PartyPoker.com Million I, eventually won by Kathy Liebert. He has been on every PartyPoker.com Million cruise and placed 5th, 15th and 20th before making this final table.
When Scott Buller rolls into town after a hard day of being a train conductor, he heads to his hotel room, pulls out his laptop and goes online to practice his favorite pastimeâonline poker at PartyPoker.com.
Buller spends nearly 20 hours each week playing the game that has become his passionâmaking more money playing poker than in his profession. The Lincoln, Nebraska, native has parlayed the lessons he has learned in PartyPoker.comâs online poker room into the real worldâat regional and major high stakes poker tournaments, including the World Series where he was in the money this year in Omaha 8 or Better.
âAt PartyPoker.com you have several benefitsâ¦you can play and learn any type of game; you can play in a closed game directly with 10 playersâand most importantlyâyou can play short-handed, meaning head-to-head with one other player,â? explains Buller. âThat last option is vital to a person looking to play tournament poker, because playing only one other player is a very important and different style of play. Itâs given me a huge advantage over tournament players who fall apart at the end when itâs down to two players. They just havenât had the practice that I get playing online at PartyPoker.com.â?
Buller started playing poker as a young man in âhome gamesâ? around the Lincoln area with friends. After he was hired by Burlington Northern Santa Fe as a conductor right out of college, he would take poker instructional books on the road to study. He was one of the first players to jump on board when PartyPoker.com went online in 2001, and has used the site to enhance the finer points of his game. Taking his newly learned skills, he began playing tournament poker only four years ago and has already won four events, including a large tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in December 2002. He made it all the way to the final table at the inaugural PartyPoker.com Million in March 2002.
Buller says online poker suits his peculiar lifestyle. âWhen I get off a route at 2 in the morning, I canât go to sleep, so I play poker. Itâs a whole lot better than calling your friends at that hour and trying to get a game together. That just might cause a bunch of divorces.â?
Buller is the father of two –Corey, 20 and Jamie, 22.
DREW (ANDREW) CHITIEA
Drew Chitiea can truly be said to be flying high in his bid to win the PartyPoker.com Million V. He is a pilot examiner for the FAA, a flight instructor and corporate pilot. He recently published the second edition of his instructional book for flight instructors.
The Centennial, CO, resident caught the poker bug after taking a bath at Holdâem when gaming was first legalized in the Colorado mining towns Blackhawk and Central City. Wanting to even the odds, he tracked down a class at the Colorado Free University 15 years ago and has been playing regularly ever since. Until then, heâd only played âkitchen table pokerâ? with family and friends.
Chitiea, who has lived with crippling arthritis in his hands since high school, is one very determined and accomplished character, considering his arthritis âmotivating.â? He likes poker because of its âegalitarian nature.â? He says, âIn no other business or sport can you sit down and compete equally with those at the table regardless of age, sex or background. You just have to have the intellect, heart and will to win.â?
Chitiea keeps meticulous records of his poker play. He plays live once a week and online exclusively at PartyPoker.com at least three times each week. He can tell you that at the live weekly tournaments in the Rocky Mountains that offer a first prize as much as $4200 per event, he is in the money one out of every three times, and will win 40% of the time. He won a dozen tournaments in 2005 alone. He has played one WSOP to date, but plans to play more this year, along with several World Poker Tour stops.
Born in New York and raised in three states and Australia, Chitiea lives with his fiancÃ© Peggy, âtwo planes and catâ? in the beautiful Colorado countryside. The 54-year-old is an admirer of legendary pro T.J. Cloutier, who holds the record for most wins ever in tournament poker, and a fan of âgood, solid, classyâ? players. His goal at making the final table is to go home and solidify his reputation as a strong local player. But then there is a matter of the prize moneyâif he makes enough, he plans to spend it on a âlovely red biplane.â?
Mike Schneider follows in the footsteps of two final table finishers at last yearâs PartyPoker.com Millionâa student. He is currently at the University of Minnesota studying journalism, planning to graduate in fall 2006, and has paid for his education through his poker winnings. The 22-year-old, who lives in Minneapolis, began playing in home games four years ago, and graduated to his hometown card room, Canterbury Park at 18, the legal age in Minnesota. In 2003 he said he was âshocked to see how many people were playing onlineâ? and elected to join the surging crowd. He is a regular PartyPoker.com player who loves the site thanks to the wide variety of games. Like many of the gameâs young enthusiasts, he admires Phil Ivey (âfor his poise at the tableâ?) and counts among his best instructors many of his contemporaries who have also taken up poker.
The PartyPoker.com Million is only his second high stakes tournament, having entered the $2500 Limit event at the WSOP in 2005, finishing 30 out of the money. But he counted it as a valuable learning experience. Schneider credits his math skills for getting him to the final table (he dropped math as a double major this year) and says he loves the mental challenge. Playing at this level is like experiencing ânever ending puzzles against good players.â? He is very excited about making the final table of the PartyPoker.com Million V, terming it âawesome,â? especially since he ended day one with only 5500 chips, thinking he might not last more than the first three hands on the second day. Wisely, he hopes to put some of his PartyPoker.com winnings into investments, after building up his bankroll a bit and tucking some away for day-to-day expenses.
When not at his computer on PartyPoker.com or studying, he can be found playing baseball, basketball or volleyball.
This retired casket salesman from Atlanta, Georgia, learned the game more than 40 years ago while in high school in Tallahasee, FL. Now 58, Joel, a graduate of Emory University, is excited to have ridden that initial skill to a spot at a PartyPoker.com final table. Poker has been a lifelong passion for him, but says, he is âstrictly an amateur.â? He and his wife Elaine make an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas and one to the Golf Coast each year, but he mostly plays online. It was his 29-year-old son Jeremy who introduced him to PartyPoker.com three years ago and this is his second PartyPoker.com Million.
Joel, who says he loves the âmental gymnasticsâ? of the game, urges âpatience and aggressionâ? as the key to poker success for newcomers. He admires Mike Sexton as a key individual who has helped to grow poker and gain its worldwide acceptance. Joel holds that his success in the PartyPoker.com Million will encourage him to play more tournaments offline, as well as online. âI watched poker on TV and always wondered if I had the right stuff,â? he says. âMaking the PartyPoker.com Million V final table is a dream come true. My wife and I love to travel, but this is by far our most memorable cruise.â?
He intends to use his prize money to âbuy my life a bauble and put a little money into my sonâs PartyPoker.com account.â?
Devon Miller, 21 (âas of a month agoâ?) is a Los Angeles-based poker pro who has been playing for the past six yearsâ¦note that would have made him 15. And indeed, he has been a bit of a child prodigy at the gameâ¦establishing himself as a feared Limit holdâem specialist while his high school mates were still figuring out who they were taking to the prom. The precocious youngster, who got hooked on the game one summer after seeing Rounders on TV, read a bunch of poker instructional books, played home games, graduated up to online poker and then live action games in short order. In fact, he and a high school mate would take three-day weekends to slip into card rooms to begin building a bankroll. On his graduation from Pleasanton High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, he and a friend high-tailed it to LA where they got an apartment and began playing in the LA area casinos. Initially, they bankrolled themselves playing onlineâ¦as he says âPartyPoker.com paid my rent!â?
Miller has since become a top $400/$800 limit player, acquitting himself well enough to manage an income that exceeds $200,000 a year. He played his first WSOP events this past year, and celebrated his 21st birthday with a wild night of partying with friends, before sitting down at the table for the LA Poker Classic at Commerce Casino, the first high stakes tournament that he actually played after reaching legal age.
Millerâs goal in making the PartyPoker.com Million final table is to gain recognition in the poker world and possibly attract a sponsor. He plans to use his winnings to âplay biggerâ? and enhance his skills at higher levels. Miller, who was born in the Bay Area, claims that pro Dustin Woolf is the person who has most influenced his game, and the player he most admires is Erik Lindgren. It was Miller who suggested he take a shot at the PPM V since it is the largest Limit tournament in the world.
Miller loves poker because, âit is the one situation you can control completely; you have no one to answer to.â? He considers his leading achievement — beside making the PPM final table– as building a fearsome reputation while playing regularly at the highest stakes games in LA and ânot going broke.â?