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The PokerNews Profile: Dario Minieri

The PokerNews Profile: Dario Minieri 0001

He could be playing in Denmark in February or Las Vegas at the height of the desert's scorching summer heat, but you'll hardly ever find Dario Minieri playing a hand of poker without the maroon-and-gold-striped scarf that has become his trademark. At times resembling an Italian version of Harry Potter, the diminutive 23-year-old looks hardly old enough to be out of Hogwarts, let alone competing for millions of dollars on the tournament circuit. However, in just a few short years, Minieri has transformed from a teen gaming whiz to one of the top players in Italy, complete with a Porsche Cayman S and a World Series of Poker bracelet.

Dario Minieri grew up in Rome, Italy and like many poker players before him, was a champion Magic: The Gathering player. Minieri traveled the Magic tournament circuit during his teens but eventually stopped travelling to attend college as a psychology student. After turning 18 in 2003, Minieri was turned on to online poker by some friends and made his first deposit on Poker Stars. Though he had played draw poker before, it was only when he ventured online that Minieri was introduced to Texas hold'em. His first games were sit-n-goes and small buy-in tournaments. Minieri began grinding up a bankroll and gave it a huge boost when he made his first significant online tournament score—a $12,000 sum earned from a victory in the Poker Stars $10 rebuy. The win gave Minieri the confidence he needed and he soon made the decision to leave college in order to play poker full time.

In the year or so that followed, Minieri played almost exclusively online, specializing in high-stakes heads-up sit-n-goes. Multi-tabling for up to 12 hours a session, Minieri racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings… and in frequent player points on Poker Stars. After Stars introduced their VIP club in early 2006, Minieri became one of the first players to achieve Supernova, and then Supernova Elite status. By that summer he had racked up over three million points—enough for him to purchase a Porsche.

Newly 21 years of age, Dario Minieri headed to Las Vegas in July of 2006 to play in his first World Series of Poker Main Event. Playing in his wildly aggressive style, Minieri amassed a huge stack, ending Day 3 of play as the chip leader. Back then, hardly anyone knew who he was—one media outlet even erroneously reported his name as "Roma Dario." That time, Minieri's fearless aggression got the best of him and he eventually cashed in 543rd place for just over $22,000. He did, however catch the eye of the ESPN cameras, earning himself quite a bit of face time on their broadcast, as well as the brass at his favorite online site, where he was signed as a member of Team Poker Stars Pro.

After making a splashy debut at the WSOP, Minieri took his skills to the European Poker Tour, where he made his first final table, finishing third in Baden in October 2006. He made two more cashes at the 2007 WSOP with a 27th-place finish in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em with Rebuys and another deep Main Event run, which ended with a 96th-place finish for $67,535. Minieri also continued to flourish online. On one remarkable Sunday (December 30, 2007), Minieri won three different tournaments on PokerStars — the $5,000 High-Stakes Freezeout, the $215 Rebuy, and the High Stakes Showdown—good for $200,000 altogether.

The EPT finally added an Italian stop in April 2008 with the inaugural EPT San Remo, and Dario Minieri made the final table. Surrounded by friends who were waving Italian flags made out of bedsheets, Minieri made a shocking exit in third place after arriving at the final table as the chip leader. In a pot vs. Jason Mercier that had been raised and reraised pre-flop, Dario bet out 200,000 on the {8-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{2-Hearts} flop, Mercier moved all in and Minieri called. Dario's pocket queens were up against Mercier's nut flush draw with {a-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds} and the {3-Diamonds} on the river sealed Minieri's elimination. A $454,000 score eased the blow, but Minieri was still in pursuit of his first major live title.

Two months later at the 2008 WSOP, Dario Minieri won his first bracelet when he took down the $2,500 Six-Handed No Limit Hold'em event. Arriving at the final table as the chip leader, this time Minieri completely ran over his opponents to emerge with the win and $528,418. He was the second Italian to win a bracelet that year, his victory coming right on the heels of Max Pescatori winning his second bracelet in the $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha event.

Minieri continues to actively travel the European tournament circuit and lives in Rome, Italy.

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