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Italian News

Naissance of Poker

by Alberto Russo |  Published: Jan 01, 2007

For all Italians who love poker, 2006 will be without a doubt a year to remember. There were many - actually, innumerous - initiatives and facts that contributed to the rapid growth of our beloved game in Italy.

We cannot deny that the World Poker Tour shows on television were groundbreaking, as many spectators began watching poker on TV on the Sport Italia network. This started changing the way poker was perceived, and the antiquated Italian views were soon forgotten.

Poker tournament? How is that possible? Many repeat players at the final tables? So, poker is not just luck, as some politicians would have us believe? It quickly became evident to all Italians that luck is a part of poker that needs to be combined with skill and patience.

An explosion of Internet sites and forums in Italy has quickly done the rest. Best of all was the realization that there are thousands of players who share our passion. In a short period of time, all events and encounters between poker players were available to all poker fans. Today, the Italian poker boom is felt everywhere. Even 100-year-old playing-card companies are experiencing a renaissance, as poker chip and table sales are on the rise.

In the month of June, the first Italian Championship was held at the San Remo Casino. It was the first poker tournament in an official casino (all five casinos in Italy are government-owned). The event was an overwhelming success, with more than 300 players who showed up to play.

There were countless other milestones in a historic 2006. Associations (Italian Rounders) and federations (FIGP Federazione Italiana Giuoco Poker) were created with the intent of spreading knowledge about hold'em and the other "American" games.

In July, Italy's own Max Pescatori conquered many top poker players by winning an event at the prestigious World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. This was the first time an Italian won a bracelet in hold'em (Valter Farina was the first one to win a bracelet, in seven-card stud). Amazingly, he did it on the same day the national soccer team won the World Cup!

Another Italian player, Luca Pagano, joined arguably the most prestigious European poker team of PokerStars. Also Dario Minieri, maybe the most famous Italian online player, was the first player to cash his Stars player points for a new Porsche!

Finally, Italy is hungry for poker, and all of us could not miss the opportunity to be part of an amazing project: Card Player Italia. We sincerely hope to bring the class and reputation of Card Player to the hands of all Italian players. Ciao! spade

Alberto Russo is the editor in chief of Card Player Italia.