EPT Monte Carlo: From mountain highs back to the foothills
The momentum of Dario Minieri at the PokerStars.com EPT San Remo last week was like a gathering wall of sound at a rock concert; a crescendo of noise building up and up before unleashing a shockwave powerful enough to either knock you off your feet, or, if you were part of the partisan Italian poker crowd, get to your feet and then jump up and down.
About 98 per cent of EPT San Remo belonged to Team PokerStars Pro Dario, who manoeuvred gracefully to the final past road blocks, rip tides and sheer mountain face drops that often had him clinging on to his tournament life. Then he would switch it all around, leaping the obstacles, wading across the rapids and pirouetting over the cliffs to final table glory. His was an EPT performance of the stuff Opera is made of.
It took him to the final table, the first final I’ve been to where people in the streets outside could be heard chanting Dario’s name before the start. This soccer-type fever lasted all the way through to third place when suddenly and without warning the wheels fell off and the dream of an Italian champion on home soil was over. The momentum eased, supermen became ordinary people once more, and the great noise stopped.
But it’s business as usual for Dario in Monte Carlo, a half-hour drive from that town he nearly conquered eight days ago, where the task is the same – an aggressive accumulation of chips.
His task is not an easy one, lining up as he does against two accomplished tournament pros in Juha Helppi and Ram Vaswani.
Whilst Finland Helppi’s has come close in WPT and WSOP events (second place in each), England’s Ram Vaswani has six EPT cashes to his name, as well as WSOP bracelets and more, and could match Dario hand-for-hand in that style of blinkered determination.
We’ll see as the day goes on (although this table is among early candidates to be broken). First Dario had the business of a pot with Juha to contend with. A limp pre-flop which Juha raised to 350. The flop came 7s8c7h which Dario checked only for Juha to make it 500 to go on. Back on Dario though, he re-raised, 1,500 total with the Finn calling for a turn card 6h.
Immediately going for his chips, Dario added 2k more of no-nonsense aggression to the pot; enough to make Juha first put his sunglasses on, second riffle a few chips in deep thought, and third come out of it folding.
Picking up where he left off - Dario a few grand up at the end of the first level.