EPT Prague: A round with Dario Minieri

Yesterday's "A round with Peter Eastgate" served its purpose of illustrating some of the realities of major poker tournaments, namely even with a table stacked with stars, there's a lot of time when nothing much happens. Today's "A round with..." features the Team PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri, and it illustrates another stark truth: with Minieri on your table, there's always something going on.

It began with Minieri's opening table being broken by the tournament staff, beginning an anxious scamper around the tournament area in search of a new seat. This isn't easy for Minieri these days: he is the main attraction wherever he seems to go, and he had to shake a lot of hands, pose for a lot of photos, and exchange polite platitudes with countless supporters as he made his way through the busy channels between the tables, all while clutching two trays of tournament chips.

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Dario Minieri

When he finally sat down, he was greeted by the sizeable stack of Constandinos Alexiou, the Greek player who also welcomed Minieri with the words: "I think I have a little better than you," waving his fingers over about 100,000 in chips. "How much is that?" Minieri asked. "One-thirty? Thanks. Just to have an idea."

And then the fun started. We were in level nine at the time, with blinds of 400-800.

Hand one:
The PokerStars qualifier Marcel Baran opened for a standard raise from early position and Pawel Chmiel moved all in for about 8,000. Minieri - this is the first hand since he sat down, remember - announces re-raise over the all in player, and begins to count out chips. Baran says, "Don't worry," and folds, earning a chuckle and a finger wag from Minieri. The two remaining players show their cards. Chmiel has A-J, Minieri has A-K and the big slick stands up. One hand played, one scalp for Minieri.

Hand two:
Alexiou calls pre-flop on Minieri's big blind. Minieri checks and the flop comes 10c-4c-5c. Both players check. The turn is the 6c and a 2,000 bet from Alexiou takes it.

Hand three:
Minieri is in the small blind, but gets out the way at the first opportunity to allow Marcel Baran, under-the-gun, and Niko Hainninen, big blind, to go to war. They get to a flop relatively cheaply, and Hainninen checks with 4h-6s-8c showing. Baran bets 4,000 but the Finn now makes it 12,000 and Baran announces that he's going to call the check-raise. He pushes his chips forward, but accidentally splashes them into the pot, meaning no one knows if he paid the full price or not. It's a genuine accident from the experienced player, but the floor has to be called anthere's a good deal of discussing and counting. Eventually it's agreed that the call stands, and that Baran has paid the correct amount, so they see a turn of 6h. Both players check, and the river is the Jh. Hainninen bets 22,000 and Baran tanks, then calls, and is shown 6-4d by Hainninen - a full house - which is good. Baran is down to 22,000 and Hainninen joins the big stacks on the table.

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Marcel Baran

Hand four:
David Sonelin, the PokerStars qualifier from Sweden, raises to 2,000 from under-the-gun and Minieri calls on the button. Hainninen and Baran, in the blinds, come along. The flop is 10d-4s-9d and it's checked to Sonelin, who bets 5,500. Minieri and Hainninen fold, but Baran announces all in, 19,700 more, and Sonelin folds.

Hand five:
An unknown player, two off the button, raises to 2,000 pre-flop. Minieri, to his left, reraises to 4,600 and the original raiser calls. The flop comes 6d-4h-2d and after the unknown player (who seems to have misplaced his name card) checks, Minieri bets 7,000. His opponent moves all in, which is only 2,000 more than Minieri has bet, and so the Italian makes the mandatory call. The all in player shows pocket eights, Minieri has the mighty 9-7o (good for a reraise pre-flop, obviously) and when turn and river blank, the all in player doubles up. "Nice hand," says Minieri.

Hand six:
Alexiou, still in possession of the biggest stack at the table, raises to 2,500 pre-flop. Hainninen reraises to 7,600 from late position and Alexiou calls. The flop comes 5c-5s-2d and Alexiou checks, prompting a bet of 8,000 from Hainninen. Alexiou re-raises to about 30,000, which is too rich for the Finn, who folds.

Hand seven:
Minieri, who sat out the last hand entirely, raises to 2,500 from mid position and it's folded to Alexiou's big blind. He calls. The flop is Kh-Kc-5h and after Alexiou taps the table, Minieri bets about 5,000, and Alexiou insta-folds. "I have quad of kings," says Minieri, who never promised anyone that he would tell the truth at all times.

Hand eight:
Hainninen raises pre-flop and that is good, completing a breathless round.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour