Power poker, Dario Minieri style
"Quick, take a photo of Dario while he has chips."
That was the suggestion made an hour or so ago when the young Team PokerStars Pro from Italy was looking over a stack of around about 30,000 and bossing his opening table.
Dario Minieri: easy come, easy go
We've grown used to seeing that kind of photo: the diminutive pro made to seem even smaller by a monstrous stack of chips. We also know that the stack is hardly likely to stay at that size: it could be doubled or gone in the blink of an eye.
That, of course, is because Dario Minieri plays power poker. On a tour dominated by aggressive play, Dario is the aggressor's aggressor. If he has chips he shoves them in. If he doesn't, he still shoves them in, until he gets some more.
I stood watching his table for an orbit a moment or two ago. By the time I got there, he had about 11,000 (no one knew where the others had gone since he moved tables.) And sure enough, they were frantically being moved forwards and usually coming back with friends.
He raised the blinds no fewer than four times in the orbit, taking them each time. Once, he flashed pocket jacks; the rest he didn't show. Obviously, not everyone stands for it. He was re-raised pre-flop once and had to fold, but no one really enjoys tangling: he got a walk in his big blind, of course.
We'll keep an eye on his continued progress. By the time I find my way back to the table, he'll be gone, one way or another. If he's not out the door, he'll be concealed behind a freshly acquired mountain of chips.
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You never win twice - or do you?
No one has ever won two EPTs.
Plenty have tried and some have come close: Brandon Schaefer has a first and a second, as does Mark Teltscher. Other champions have followed up a big win with a final table finish; some have done that the other way round.
But no one has ever won two EPTs. Until now, perhaps?
Obviously it is far too early to say -- we still have about 180 runners with an hour left of day one -- but there are a number of likely candidates still in the field.
Out on table 17, Ram Vaswani and Pascal Perrault are doing battle. Ram leads the all time EPT tournament rankings, and it's not difficult to see why. He won in Dublin during season one, then came second in Copenhagen three months later. He placed fifth in Deauville during season two, and eighth in the Grand Final that year. His record is so good that the 18th and 19th places in Copenhagen (again) and London seem insignificant.
Perrault also earned his big score on season one, when he took it down in Vienna. Last week in London, he was around the chip lead for three days, before busting out just before the final table. But he's back in with a shout here: he has around 21,000, to Ram's 16,000.
Down on table one are two other contenders for the coveted second trophy. Thang Nguyen triumphed here in Baden last year, and he's back today, sitting behind 14,000. If he peers one seat to his right, he'll find Noah Boeken, the Team PokerStars Pro, and another EPT sensation.
Boeken came sixth in London during season one, and made it five places better in Copenhagen three months later, taking his first major win. He's been 11th, 22nd and 12th in Dublin, Copenhagen (again) and Barcelona on three subsequent occasions.
But it doesn't end there.
Also very much in the mix here are Sander Lyloff and Patrik Antonius. Lyloff won in Barcelona a month or so ago, and has one of the chip-leader's stacks here. He's got somewhere in the region of 50,000 and looking very strong on a table that also includes Marcel Luske and Richard Ashby.
Sander Lyloff: around the chip lead
Antonius, meanwhile, is his usual steady self. He triumphed in Baden during season two (following up a third place in Barcelona a few weeks before). And, typically, he's been silently amassing chips all day and now has about 38,000.
Patrik Antonius: focussed
That first two-time winner will be crowned soon. Maybe even Wednesday.
Pictures (c) Neil Stoddart