2008 World Series: Making this year count

The Italian poker community used to be a small one, but like in so many other nations over the last couple of years all that has changed. Whereas once just one or two Italian players graced a tournament field, these days that figure is more like dozens from the land of pizza and vespers. Part of that surge of interest is because of players like Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano.

The evidence of this was pretty clear a few months ago at the PokerStars.com EPT event in San Remo. There, several hundred players, and twice that in spectators, rocked the small tourist town where Luca and team mate Dario Minieri were greeted and cheered like the local heroes they were during a week of top class poker. Every hand, every raise, every bet was met with the loudest cheers the EPT has ever heard. It left a lasting impression – the tour will return there next season.


Joe Hachem and Isabelle Mercier paying a visit to Luca Pagano earlier on

Right now Luca Pagano plays in the ‘Green zone’ of the Amazon Room. The World Series main event has been an enigma for Luca who has yet to cash in the big dance. The Italian has always had success online, and cashes almost at ease on the European Poker Tour, making the final table of the Grand Final last April for a sixth place finish worth $533,253. But for Luca the World Series remains an inexplicable trial.

But today he seems to be running good – maybe this is the start of something better, an upswing. Dressed in an Azure blue shirt, an Italian tricolour flag alongside his PokerStars insignia, he’s playing with confidence and guile; a pot won uncontested after a re-raise, then another to follow, good for a few grand more – he’s now 37,000 to the good. And with the popularity explosion comes a busy Italian rail watching every hand. We’ll be watching too.

Another Team PokerStars Pro hailing from Italia is recent bracelet winner Dario Minieri, who spoke to the PokerStars video blog team about his World Series success...

Watch WSOP: Dario Minieri Interview on PokerStars.tv