WSOP Main Event: Keeping cool with Luca Pagano
by Howard Swains
There are some poker players who need no introduction. Others deserve none. Some, however, don't really require any formalities, but can quite happily be introduced time and again, such is their enduring appeal. You'll find Luca Pagano in group three.
Regular followers of the PokerStars blog, particularly those who tune in when the operation decamps across the Atlantic, will have heard plenty about the young Italian's impeccable demeanour, exquisite appearance and ice-cool temperament. They may also have heard a thing or two about his poker-playing exploits.
Luca made two final tables during the first season of the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT), and cashed in a third. During season two, he went deep twice more, adding a further couple of paydays. There are also two WSOP-endorsed cheques with Luca's name on them.
And today, Luca has taken his place on table 58 in flight A of the World Series, carrying the joint hopes of his nation and PokerStars. As usual, this is all being taken very much in his stride.
Spectators were allowed into the Amazon Room for the first time an hour or so ago and Luca has a seat by the rail. In fact, those rubber-necked railbirds are peering straight over his shoulder, whispering their ill-informed reads and tells to one another, enough to distract any marginally less composed individual. But look up cool in the Italian dictionary and you'll see a photo of Luca. He's sitting comfortably behind a stack similar to the one he started with a few hours ago. I've seen him play one hand. He won it. He'll be here for a few hours yet.
Speaking of 100 per cent hit rates, Katja Thater, another friend of PokerStars from Germany, is sitting pretty with about 18,000. "I played five hands, I won five hands," she understated. "Nothing special."
At the other end of the same table, Clonie Gowan sits in similar silence with about 3,000. Whether the two non-stories are related is not for me to speculate.