EPT9 Sanremo: A round with Sam Trickett, Antonio Esfandiari and friends

ept-thumb-promo.jpgSome tables are always tougher than others, and as we mentioned earlier today, some of the most difficult of all time have been arranged this afternoon in Sanremo. We usually reserve the "A Round With..." feature for deeper in these tournaments, but when Day 1B throws up a table boasting Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Trickett, Martin Staszko, Luca Moscitta and Jon Aguiar, it seems like too good an opportunity to miss.

Just for a little background, Esfandiari and Trickett went heads up for the $18m One Drop first prize at the World Series this summer; Staszko was runner up to Pius Heinz in the WSOP Main Event last November; Moschitta is a member of Team Online and the youngest and quickest player ever to reach Supernova Elite status on PokerStars (he has bought two Porsches with his VPPs) and Aguiar is fresh from winning his first WSOP bracelet in Cannes last week.

It really is one heck of a line-up, but the "A Round With..." feature aims to illustrate just how the quieter moments of these poker tournaments work. Although you may expect nothing but fireworks - and probably see nothing but incendiary moments when these players appear in edited TV highlights - it is not always like that, especially not in the early stages.

This orbit was the first in level three, just after players returned from their first break of the day. Blinds were at 100-200 and the approximate chip stacks at this stage (listed below) show that no player had really taken control as yet. They had been passing the odd few thousand among themselves in the opening stages.


The table in question

Table line up:

Seat 1 - Natalie Hof - 37,000
Seat 2 - Jon Aguiar - 35,000
Seat 3 - Martin Staszko - 20,100
Seat 4 - Aristeidis Avgerinos - 33,000
Seat 5 - Sam Trickett - 26,000
Seat 6 - Luca Moschitta - 29,800
Seat 7 - Antonio Esfandiari - 34,500
Seat 8 - Renaud Desferet - 27,800
Seat 9 - Antonio Volpicelli - 24,800
Seat 10 - Antonio Bressi - 33,000

Hand 1 - Button with Sam Trickett
Players were a little slow to get back from the break, meaning the very first hand after the shuffle up and deal featured only four players. Renaud Desferet was one of them and his pre-flop raise got through.

But the first hand proper took a little longer to play out: Jonathan Aguiar opened from early position and after Martin Staszko called from one seat to his left, Antonio Esfandiari called from the big blind.

The three of them saw a flop of 9♦7♥[10h] and after Esfandiari bet 1,025, only Staszko called. They both checked the 9♠ turn and then the 7♠ rivered. Esfandiari checked, Staszko bet 1,400 and Esfandiari called. Staszko tabled A♠[10s], which was good.

Hand 2 - Button with Luca Moschitta
It was folded to Sam Trickett in the cut off, and he raised to 400. That was enough to persuade everyone else out the pot.

Hand 3 - Button with Antonio Esfandiari
After pinching the blinds on the last hand, Sam Trickett got up and wandered away from the table, apparently to attend to some business hanging over from the break. In the absence of Trickett, Antonio Bressi limped from under-the-gun and it was folded all the way round to Renaud Desferet in the small blind.

Desferet raised to 700, which Bressi called, peering right-ward from beneath his crooked-brimmed cap. The flop came J♣2♥Q♦, which they both checked, and the K♣ turned. Desferet checked, Bressi bet 1,100 and Desferet called.

The river brought the 8♦ and Desferet checked again. Bressi bet again, this time 2,100, and it was enough. Desferet folded.

Hand 4 - Button with Renaud Desferet
Sam Trickett was still on walkabout, leaving an empty seat five. Jonathan Aguiar opened to 525 from early position and no one put up any resistance, ending this one without a flop.

Hand 5 - Button with Antonio Volpicelli
Buoyed by the success of the tactic on the last hand, Jonathan Aguiar opened to 525 again, this time from under the gun. This was far from the cake-walk of the previous hand, however, as the bet was called by Aristeidis Avgerinos, Antonio Esfandiari and Renaud Desferet before Antonio Volpicelli made it 3,200 from the button. Antonio Bressi called that from the small blind, and suddenly all those others lost interest. That left Bressi and Volpicelli going to the flop.

It came J♠2♦3♠, which both players checked, and then the J♥ turned. Bressi bet 3,200 at it, which was good enough to take it down.

Hand 6 - Button with Antonio Bressi
The action folded to Antonio Esfandiari, who opened to 425. The other two Antonios folded, as did everyone else.

Hand 7 - Button with Natalie Hof
Antonio Volpicelli got this one started, raising to 400 from the hijack. Martin Staszko was the only caller from the big blind, which took them to a flop of 7♠A♦2♣. Staszko checked, Volpicelli threw out one blue chip, worth 5,000, announcing his actual bet size at the same time. Staszko didn't care and folded his cards before he even knew the size of the bet he was facing.

Hand 8 - Button with Jonathan Aguiar
Antonio Esfandiari continued with the pattern established a couple of hands ago, opening from middle position to 425. Antonio Bressi was adamant that he would not be run over by his namesake and three bet to 1,425 from the hijack, which only Esfandiari called.

The flop came 9♠3♦3♠ and Esfandiari bet 1,200. Bressi was the very picture of disgruntlement as he peeked at his cards again, showed them to an uninterested dealer, and threw them into the muck.


Antonio Esfandiari, one of about six table captains

Hand 9 - Button with Martin Staszko
It was folded to Natalie Hof in the cut off, and she decided to get involved for the first time in this orbit. She raised to 400, but couldn't get that past either Martin Staszko, who called on the button, or Sam Trickett, who defended his big blind.

The three of them saw a flop of 5♦A♦7♦ and both Trickett and Hof checked. Staszko bet 600, and only Trickett was still interested. He called, as Hof folded.

The K♣ turned, which they both checked, and then the K♠ rivered. Under an exceptionally intense stare from Staszko, Trickett bet 1,200. Staszko stared some more, which prompted Trcikett to hoist himself upright in his chair, having previously been slumped a few degrees off of the horizontal.

Staszko raised, making it 4,000. But maybe he wished he hadn't, because Tricket now picked up his entire stack and pushed it over the line. It was about 24,000, but covered Staszko. There then followed one of the more peculiar poker tactics as Trickett (the player who had already made his last decision of the hand) started asking all the questions. "You got king-queen?" Trickett asked. Staszko was silent. "A flush draw?"

Staszko didn't look too happy about the way this had turned out and folded. Trickett reached for his cards and turned over the 3♣, which didn't seem to mean very much at all. He then scooped in the pot that would take him back into the black for this tournament.

Hand 10 - Button with Aristeidis Avgerinos
On the final hand of the orbit, Antonio Esfandiari raised to 425 for the third time, this time from under the gun. Luca Moschitta called from the big blind and then checked the K♠K♦2♠ flop. Esfandiari bet 575, but the chips had not even landed on the table before Moschitta folded, giving the third small pot of the round to Esfandiari.

All ten players therefore survived this round, with Trickett displaying some of the skills that have made him such a feared campaigner, Staszko battling gamely, Esfandiari and Aguiar quietly accumulating and the rest playing their part as well.

It is unlikely the table will break today, but is equally unlikely to remain with that specific line up as the blinds rise and action increases.

Keep and eye on the live tournament reporting from EPT Sanremo for any big moves on that or any table.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour