EPT11 Grand Final: Dario Sammartino poised to make good on Italian promise


Dario Sammartino: Making good

A couple of years ago in Sanremo, the subject of Italian poker was under discussion. A local journalist described the fluctuations of the game in the country, which had included a massive boom and a relative slump and then an levelling out.

The general gist was that a few good players had taken all the money of the bad ones, but that those more talented individuals struggled when they breached the borders. They didn't need a full armoury to triumph in the volatile games among the Azzurri and the overall standard had suffered as a result.

The same discussion, however, pointed to some green shoots of recovery. The journalist suggested that there were now some relatively young Italian players coming through who had developed all the right skills. The name mentioned time and again as representing the future of Italian poker was Dario Sammartino. He was making all the right noises in all the right games.

This afternoon in Monaco, at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final, Sammartino, who is now 28, demonstrated exactly his promise. Having qualified for the €100,000 Super High Roller tournament via a €10,000 super satellite, Sammartino is the chip leader of the eight remaining.

The Italian already had a top five stack when he got involved in an enormous pot late in the day against Ole Schemion. Sammartino flopped a set with his pocket jacks, then turned a full house, and then called a Schemion shove on the end. (Schemion had aces.) Sammartino took his time about his big call with the third nuts, drawing claims of a nit-roll. But it was indicative mainly of a player sensing a breakthrough performance and not willing to throw it away.


Ole Schemion and Dario Sammartino, in happier times

Sammartino won nearly 4 million chips in that pot and finished the day with 4.48 million. The man closest behind him is Igor Kurganov, the High Roller specialist who led this event last night and who ended the day in spectacular fashion. Shortly after they went nine-handed, Kurganov got kings to beat Vladimir Troyanovskiy's aces and won a pot of close to 4 million of his own. Kurganov finished with 3.645 million.


Igor Kurganov: Butter wouldn't melt (but aces would)

Although Schemion crashed and burned, just as he was looking to be at his irresistible best, Germany remains exceptionally well represented. Max Altergott, who won this event two years ago has 2.215 million; Fedor Holz, the WCOOP champion, has 1.65 million and Kurganov is as much German as he is Russian.

The full remaining line-up is as follows:

Seat 1 - Dzmitry Urbanovich, Poland, 735,000
Seat 2 - Thomas Muehloecker, Austria, 2,290,000
Seat 3 - Erik Seidel, United States, 2,170,000
Seat 4 - Igor Kurganov, Russia, 3,645,000
Seat 5 - Max Altergott, Germany, 2,215,000
Seat 6 - Fedor Holz, Germany, 1,650,000
Seat 7 - Dario Sammartino, Italy, 4,480,000
Seat 8 - Scott Seiver, United States, 470,000


Max Altergott: Anyone remember 2013?


Decent stack for Erik Seidel

A shout out too to the last Polish player in that contingent. Dzmitry Urbanovich, the man who laid siege to Malta, only bought in this morning and so has locked up at least €261,800 from only one day's play. (His countryman Piotr Franczak was the bubble boy, losing with aces to Troyanovskiy's pocket threes late in the day. Troyanovskiy struggled with the best hand soon after.)

Scott Seiver loved all the late drama. The man with the best results from Super High Roller events has a short stack, but has locked up another six-figure payday.


Dzmitry Urbanovich and Piotr Franczak: Poles apart

The other headline news from today was the announcement of the prize-pool and the revelation that the winner is due for a payday of €2,015,000. That will be the third biggest first prize ever to be given to a player on mainland Europe on the EPT, with only Glen Chorny and Pieter de Korver earning more.

Whoever wins it will have deserved it. With 53 players, plus 13 re-entries, this has been the biggest and toughest tournament of its kind. When the list of the departed includes not only Schemion but Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Isaac Haxton, Antonio Esfandiari, Jason Mercier, Mike McDonald and Daniel Colman, it's obvious how strong this starting field was.


Among the wreckage: Daniel Colman and Mike McDonald

Play resumes tomorrow at 12.30pm, but there will be no coverage until 1.30pm when EPT Live begins. Join us all then. Bon nuit.


Follow all the action from the EPT Grand Final on the main EPT Grand Final page. Follow the Super High Roller or the France Poker Series. To get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts, don't forget to download the EPT app on either Android or IOS.