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Max Pescatori Looks To Be Top European Performer In World Series Of Poker History

Poker Pro Captured Third Bracelet Earlier This Month


Max PescatoriItalian poker pro Max Pescatori moved into the three-bracelet club with a win in the $1,500 razz event in early June. The 44-year-old from Milan, Italy claimed the $155,947 first-place prize after outlasting a field of 462 players. It had been seven summers since Pescatori’s last bracelet.

With the win, Pescatori moved into a tie with Davidi Kitai, George Danzer and Dominik Nitsche for most bracelets won by a European-born player. It is worth mentioning that Jeff Lisandro, who hails from Australia but resides in Italy these days, has six bracelets.

Card Player had the chance to chat with Pescatori to discuss his bracelet win after a long drought at the WSOP, as well as the state of poker in Italy.

Brian Pempus: How did this bracelet feel compared to the other two?

Max Pescatori: Well, it’s a great feeling to win it after a few years because you can appreciate it more as an accomplishment. To get the third one is like getting back to the big run I was having in 2006 and 2008. I had a few years where I was struggling. Last year I actually had a good WSOP, and I was counting on this year.

BP: Can you talk about trying to persevere through the long cold streak?

MP: Yeah, I felt like I was trying my best, but poker exploded in Italy and it took a lot of time away from my mixed games, which is my main game. Going to Italy I had to play no-limit, since they don’t really play the other games, and it took away a lot. You need to practice consistently to be at the top. To win at the WSOP you have to beat the best in the world. I changed my training the past couple of years, trying to practice the mixed games a few months leading up to the WSOP. It helped. I feel completely different at the table than I did in 2010 to 2012 when I was struggling. I was making mistake after mistake and going crazy. I knew I was doing things wrong.

BP: Is this all really gratifying for you then? Is this the sign of a great poker player?

MP: Absolutely. This is a sign of a person who takes poker very seriously, who loves the game and the competition. I see a lot of players today have a lot amazing talent and screw it up in some way. It’s better for me, but at the same time you have to look at what at what other people do wrong. It’s funny because in Italy I was doing OK, but when I was coming back [to the WSOP] it was a much different type of competition. You have to adjust. I hope to adjust every year.

BP: How is poker in Italy these days after that boom you mentioned?

MP: Unfortunately it has been challenging. The volume of [online] play went down a lot. Live poker is still doing really well, but online has been doing really bad. I think the reason is that there was a pro bubble where you had like 150 sponsored players in Italy. They were getting money from companies, of course grinding a lot, and others were grinding a lot because they were trying to build their personal brand to get sponsorship. When the companies started struggling and the game got tougher, sponsored players started fading. It was like a bubble burst. We did reach a point where I think it will stabilize, but it has been a really bad year for Italian poker. Hopefully we’ll make it through. It’s a game loved by many people.

BP: Now that you have three bracelets, do you have an increased hunger for more?

MP: Yeah, because when I got the second bracelet I looked up all the double bracelet winners and found there were 99 others. I was the club of the top 100. Now that I got the third, I think there are like 64 people with three or more. If you don’t keep winning you will get passed. It’s fun to try to keep up pace. It was especially good to get the third one because no European has four bracelets. There are four of us with three.

BP: You have a ton of success at the WSOP but you have never cashed in the main event. Can you talk about this really bad run in the no-limit hold’em championship?

MP: Yeah, I was actually thinking about not playing it (laughs), because I never do well in it. The first nine times I played it there was only one year that I made the second day. The last two years I busted about 50 to the money and about 10 to the money. Last year was the most awful, with aces against sevens all-in preflop. It’s funny because I met the guy who knocked me out last year in the razz event [this year] and he got eliminated and I won the tournament. It goes in circles.

For more coverage from the summer series, visit the 2015 WSOP landing page, complete with a full schedule, news, player interviews and event recaps.