What Gianluca “Tankanza” Speranza achieved on Monday night will go down in the poker history books as one of the greatest achievements in the game.
Just as it does every year, the $10,300 Spring Championship of Online Poker 2019 Main Event created one of the toughest poker fields imaginable this past Sunday (May 26). The 662 entries came from the many of the best players in the world, but when they were whittled down to a final table on Monday’s Day 2, all eyes were on one player in particular.
You see, “Tankanza” – perhaps better known as Austrian-based Italian pro Gianluca Speranza – had won the very same event last year, when he outlasted a 654-player field and overcame a tough final table which included the likes of Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen, Thomas “WushuTM” Muehloecker, and the long-reigning world no.1 Niklas “Lena900” Åstedt. For that victory, Speranza won a massive $1,113,160.
On Monday (May 27), he found himself back at the very same final table—one of the most prestigious final tables on the online poker calendar—for the second year running.
And incredibly, for the second year running, he won it all again for his second SCOOP title of 2019 (yep, Speranza had already taken down the $215 Mini Super Tuesday for $80K).
Speranza navigated his way through another tough final table (which this year included former TCOOP Main Event winner Dinesh “NastyMinder” Alt and last year’s SCOOP-H Main Event runner-up “nailuj90”) to strike a heads-up chop with Belarus’ “OMGitshunt”. Speranza took it down for $1,028,203, in what our Howard Swains described as “an unprecedented achievement, arguably the most unlikely online poker result ever documented.”
We caught up with Speranza yesterday to discuss his incredible achievement, his thoughts on SCOOP, and his plans for the future.
PokerStars Blog: Two years in a row. Wow. Has it sunk in yet?
Gianluca “Tankanza” Speranza: I felt very good when I woke up on Tuesday! I’m still very happy.
You won a SCOOP title earlier in this series too. How do you think that win impacted your performance in the later tournaments?
Well, it certainly didn’t have a negative impact. But actually, I wanted to win more then one SCOOP title anyway. I’ve played at least five final tables in the SCOOP events, and every time I come close to a victory I’m more stimulated to do better the next time. Maybe my earlier win gave me the right push.
Heading in to SCOOP 2019, how excited were you to defend your Main Event title?
I was very excited! And I was very proud of how I had played so far this year.
Were there any interesting spots that you remember in the Main Event run?
I would say that the hand in which I completely doubled up against “nastyminder” with pocket kings was a nice turn at the final table. A double up at that time gave me a big advantage in three-handed play.
At what point did you start to think you might be able to go back to back?
Obviously I was hoping for it from the start, but I’d say I started to be more convinced at the end of Day 1 when I finished fifth in chips. Also a good start on Day 2 made me realise even more that I could reach the final table for the second year running. I asked myself: if I can do it, who should win then?
You’ve been a top pro for several years. Do you think this back-to-back win will change the way anyone thinks about you?
It should not, at least on the part of those who actually really know me, but probably someone’s opinion will change. I can’t assure you that it will be in a more positive light, or that I will have a lot more respect.
Have you made any significant changes in your game these past couple of years that you think has helped you in your recent success?
Nothing in particular, but I do feel that I am still improving day after day.
What is it about SCOOP that you love? Do you look forward to playing it every year?
First of all, I like the idea of being able to play a large number of tournaments, with nice guarantees, for several consecutive weeks.
And then I love everything else. The very playable structures. The high guarantees. The important fields. I’ve always loved to play it and I’m sure I’ll do it again.
Many players travel to a new location for SCOOP. Where do you like to grind?
Honestly, I really like staying at my house in Vienna.
Was anyone with you whilst you were playing? How did you celebrate immediately after the win?
I was completely alone at home. Although I like to have company, when I play online poker I prefer not to have too many distractions around so I can be more focused in what I’m doing.
When I finished playing I was too happy to go to bed! So I went out and I joined my friends who were following me from their home.
What’s next for you?
I’ll probably go to Las Vegas soon and play some World Series of Poker (WSOP) events, and then to Barcelona for the European Poker Tour (EPT) in summer, for sure. After that I guess the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) will be just around the corner!
Thanks for talking to us, Gianluca. Finally, is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to?
First of all, I would like to thank my father and mother who have always been my best teachers in life and have always been supportive in what I do.
I would also like to thank my good friend Mustapha Kanit. There are many people like him who have always supported me over the years, and encourage me to always do better.
I want to thank my brother and sister and my childhood friends, but also the many nice people I’ve got to know through this world, Italians and otherwise. I would like to thank them all even if there are too many to name and I would surely forget someone! They know that I am thinking of them. I love you all guys.
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