EPT9 Sanremo: Qualifier of the day: Stefano Giarrusso
Every now and again on the European Poker Tour, a young Italian player appears from absolutely nowhere, plays like a man or woman possessed and suddenly has a stack of chips so large they need a step-ladder to reach the top. This move is known as "doing a Minieri" after the diminutive Team PokerStars Pro who used to do that kind of thing pretty much every tournament, from the moment he first appeared at the World Series of Poker in 2006.
Since then, we have been wowed by Alfio Battisti (Warsaw season five) and Irina Baroni (Tallinn season seven), among others, and today's pint-sized Latin scamp has been Stefano Giarrusso, who sat at the top of the leader board for long portions of this afternoon.
Giarrusso is the de facto PokerStars Qualifier of the Day, based entirely on his performance at the tables. You see, we know practically nothing about him, beyond what can be gleaned from a quick online search. Even Andrea Borea, who writes for our long-haired, pasta-chomping, scooter-riding, womanising sister blog PokerStarsBlog.it says: "I have never seen him before. Not on the IPT, the EPT, nothing."
Giarrusso is actually in his early 20s, comes from Vittoria and plays online as "i'msteveg". He won his seat to EPT Sanremo in a €100 satellite, where he picked up one of two seats on offer. He flew out of the blocks today and was up about 130,000 chips before dinner, then continued by knocking out Lex Veldhuis with pocket jacks against Veldhuis's ace-three.
Big pairs weren't always kind to Giarrusso, however, and the principal reason he is no longer at the top of the chip counts is because of an accident he had with pocket aces. After a four-bet pot pre-flop against Domenico Cordi, Giarrusso managed to get all his opponent's chips in the middle on the turn, with the J♣6♠8♣[10c] exposed. The only problem was that Cordi had turned a set with his pocket tens and took down the 45,000-ish pot.
But Giarrusso seems up for the challenge and is following in the footsteps of some of the best. He'll be worth watching over the next few days; these young Italian players who emerge suddenly from nowhere are always tremendous value for the rail-birds.
Keep and eye on the live tournament reporting from EPT Sanremo for all the news from the tournament floor.