If you’ve ever wondered what type of people play poker events like EPT Barcelona, there’s really only one answer. All types of people play. People like you or I.
Of course, the field is also smattered with elite pros, but the vast majority of players in these fields do other things for most of the day and play poker purely recreationally.
They are very often only in the field because they won a satellite on PokerStars and got their €5,000 ticket for very cheap.
Take the following two players from Italy.
Playing for our canine friends
Here is Fulvio Ferrero, from Alba, a town in northwest Italy, between Genoa and Turin.
He describes himself as “absolutely amateur” and works in insurance. But he’s also become quite a regular qualifier to live poker events from PokerStars, starting with a trip to Uruguay in 2008, for the first season of the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT).
Back then, he turned his $8 satellite ticket into a 13th-place finish in Punta del Este, good for more than $9K. He’s since been to Monte Carlo and here in Barcelona a few times.
“I come to Barcelona often because I love this city,” he says. He always bolts on a few extra days of holiday when he comes here, and this year is accompanied by an old friend.
Ferrero says that his real passion is for dogs and he volunteers regularly at a kennels in Alba, which looks after the town’s canine residents. He says that if he wins big in Barcelona, he intends to help the kennels financially too.
By that point, he may also have an interesting supporter on the rail. He says that his partner will fly out if he makes the final table, accompanied by their dog Pino.
A first-timer living a dream
Raffaele Bellapianta is living a dream with his appearance here in Barcelona. He learned poker at the tender age of 12, playing for fun, before eventually playing play money tournaments online when he was old enough to open an account.
“I didn’t know the value of the cards, the chips, nothing, but then gradually I learned by myself without anyone’s help,” Bellapianta says. “I watched poker television programmes and from there I became passionate.”
That passion convinced him to take a shot at qualifying for the EPT, and he managed it ahead of EPT Barcelona. “This ticket is my biggest win,” he says. “I have never played a live event and have always dreamed of participating since I was 14 years old.”
By day, Bellapianta owns and runs a fruit and vegetable shop, but says a deep run would give him the opportunity to travel and play more poker tournaments. And even if that dream doesn’t come true, he is making the most of this trip to Spain.
“My wife is coming with me so I also take advantage of the opportunity to take a holiday with her,” he says. Meanwhile, the couple’s two daughters are watching on from their grandparents’ house.
Good luck to both Ferrero and Bellapianta as they do battle on Day 1A, living the dream.
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