2007 World Series: Day of the Dario

by PokerStars Team Blog

I had many stories in mind for today. The last I expected was the meteoric rise of Dario Minieri.

Though I had planned for and fully expected a clash between the two rain kings (see below), the story of Dario Minieri was a late-day add that made my head spin.

The story of the day was, in fact, about a diminutive young man from Italy. Supernova Dario Minieri (yes, the same guy who bought a Porsche with his PokerStars Frequent Player Points) finished the day with a mind-blowing 2.4 million in chips.

Minieri was the first PokerStars player to exchange his FPP points for a Porsche Cayman S. He drove over his table today for the chip lead, turning 1.3m into 2.4m in the last level.

Last year, Dario had a monster stack early. He struggled with Dmitri Nobles, bluffing off a chunk of chips after the bubble burst then losing a coin flip with AK vs. Dmitri's pocket threes.

"I've learned a lot in the last year," said Dario. "I've worked on my game and played with champions on PokerStars. I've also worked on my live play, including playing on the EPT. I'm shifting gears more, picking my spots better."

Dario has a sore throat and a sinus infection, sending for cold medicine and lozenges this evening. Everyone at Table 48 now has Dario Flu. It was as close to aggressive perfection as you can expect at the Main Event. He ran in after one break as the dealer was throwing out the first card. "Raise!" he yelled as he ducked under the ropes to grab his seat. Over the twenty-one hands at the last level with blinds of 3k/6k with a 500 ante, he picked up pots of 480k, 465k, 240k, and 470k. He picked off two players who bluffed off their stacks to him, and he bluffed when he felt like it.

Two hands show how Dario's evening was running.

He called a middle position's raise of 18k from the button, and the flop came 6h-8h-10c. The player had been attacked relentlessly by Dario, and he check called the flop bet of 20k by Dario. 10s led to a check/call of 45k by the raiser, and then Ks led to another check. Dario bet 150k, and the raiser insta-called. Dario said "Flush," and showed 9s-6s.

He got involved with the same player one round later. Again, a 22k raise that Dario called on the button. The flop came 5s-6c-10d, and the raiser moved all-in for 220k more. Dario thought for a few minutes and started chatting with the guy. "I know I've got a short stack," he said, and Dario grabbed 220k and called. He had Ah-10h to the raiser's Kd-Qh, and the 4c-3h sent another massive pot to Dario.

The floor brought eight racks for Dario to color up yellow 1k chips at his request. He'll hope to feel a bit better by noon tomorrow, but with a massive chip lead and 337 players left, this Roman dynamo could drive all the way to the Final Table.

Minieri, often carded for his sub-21-year-old face, has been walking around the Rio for the past three days with the look of a guy who felt bored, maybe like playing a Stars SNG and then heading to bed. Instead, he's been barreling over the field and busting as many players as he can.

He goes into tomorrow with the chip stack that looks like his FPP bank. He finished the day on 2.4 million, a chip lead that will scare just about anybody in the tournament.

Before tomorrow, I need an Italian translator. Or a gelato.

Wait, gimme both.


Humberto Brenes chews a lot of gum. A lot of gum. How much?

"About 60 pieces a day," he says, moving his hand as a Frenchman might when saying comme-ci comme-ca.

That might be a surprise to somebody who hasn't spent a lot of time around the shark from Costa Rica. For me though, it made sense. Brenes keeps two huge packs of gum in front of him at all times and chews a new piece about every orbit.

"I used to..." he says, and then puts two fingers in front of his mouth that any smoker will recognize in a second. Now, years after he quit, he chews like a chimney, if you will.

Brenes, while still drawing the cameras with his Super Shark 007 routine, has been relatively quiet throughout the day. However, his final hours of the night were the kind that would make any TV producer happy. Not only did he have Tobey "Spiderman" Maguire at his table, he also had The Waco Kid and Jeff "mrrain" Banghart.

For a guy who spends his entire career in front of a camera, I've never seen a man shun the press more than Tobey Maguire. He actively avoids the poker press, going so far as to hold his hands up in front of his face when cameras are around. However, when the media are away, Maguire is as genial as anyone could want. He fits in well at this friendly yet dangerous table. Running AK into AA on a xxxAx board didn't do him well, but he managed to not go broke.

Brenes, too, is holding his own at the table. When he picks up KK against AQ, he managed to pick up a nice pot and draw the ESPN cameras away from the room. Say what you will about the man, he's managing to survive without nicotine and build a nice stack in the process.

Jeff "mrrain" Banghart is still a huge story. A chip leader after Day 2A, Banghart came into Day 3 with a determined eye and susper-aggressive game. He actively spanked players on the bubble and built his stack to near a million before the dinner break. Afterward, he got involved in a massive three-way multi-raised pot on a board with two kings. While I know what he was holding, I'll never tell. A magician doesn't tell his secrets, and bloggers who know are sworn to secrecy. Suffice it to say, regardless of what mrrain held, he was good.

Late in the night Banghart sat on 1.5 million chips and seemed to be able to do no wrong.

"He needs to slow down," a friend of his said me on the rail.

I looked over at Banghart. His eyes betrayed nothing. He may be playing fast, but he's as cool as the fridge in mid-July.

One would think--what with as much success as he's had online--that Banghart would be primed for some primtetime success. Instead, when ESPN showed up late tonight looking for background information, Baghart left the questionnaire under his chair.

"I don't want to toot my own horn," he said.

Somebody else filled it out for him.


I'd been hoping all day for the mrrain vs. RaiNKhaN match. It never happened, but that didn't stop the excitement. RaiNKhaN, with a personality tailor-made for TV, got moved to the ESPN table. While starting the day strong, he fell back to around 500,000. I'd walked away to starting writing this post when two people came in talking and a text message confirmed the story. RaiNKhaN had just cracked aces with queens to double up to one million.

"He did a rain dance," someone said.


Finally, some mentions of other players remaining in the field.

PokerStars' Sverre Sundbo could well be crowned Comeback Kid of the Day. Down to just 40,000 chips early in the afternoon, he was up to a whopping 815,000 as the end of play loomed.

The Norwegian pro player had been on on a roller coaster not just today, but since the start of the Main Event. But he saved one of the best hair-raising moments until last. "I was in the small blind and a player made it 16,000 to go. Chip Jett called, and I called as well with J-9 spades. The flop came J, rag, rag - but both rags were spades.

"I checked, the initial raiser bet 50,000, Chip called and so I moved all in. The first guy gets out of the way, but Chip called me with K-K. Now I have lots of outs, but one came straight away when the 10 of spades came on the turn. Thankfully!

"So, having been down to 40,000 at one point I am now very happy!"

Also happy is Mexican PokerStars qualifier Daniel Elizondo. He started off today with 390,000 and has managed to make it through the minefield with 450,000. He told us earlier how he spent his day off yesterday running a 10k in the gym. Tonight he said: "If I wake up early enough tomorrow I'll be back on the treadmill, but I'll only do five kilometers. It helps me to feel good when I am playing."

Daniel, from Monterrey, runs his own law practise specialising in real estate, but he keeps his poker hobby quiet from the staff. "They do not know, I think," he said.

If he continues this form, however, they will not be able to avoid the news of their bosses' success.

And David Flusfeder, the British author representing PokerStars, is still in the hunt with just above average chips - about 340,000. He's been sitting next to 2002 World Champion Robert Varkonyi all day. "Actually, I'm just a bit dazed that I'm still in," he said., with typical British reserve.

If that's not enough to keep you interested until tomorrow, here's a look back at what we did today:

The bubble cometh

The Run to the money

From Mexico to Las Vegas

Brazil Still In Action

Hungry Humberto

Floating with the bubble

Dinner without Duthie

Marco Mills Mints a Multitude of M's

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in