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PokerNews Profile: Dario Alioto

Dario Alioto

There’s no question as to Dario Alioto’s favorite form of poker. The man lives for pot-limit Omaha. If there’s a major PLO tournament, he’s in it. If there’s a juicy cash game, he’s buying in. And if there’s a WSOP bracelet up for grabs and it takes four hole cards to get there, you can bet he’ll be on his A-game. In only a few short years, Alioto has developed into one of the premiere players in Italy, amassing nearly $1 million in tournament earnings. Already a familiar face on the European circuit and one of only seven players to have ever won a WSOP bracelet overseas, Alioto is also proving to be a force on the felt in the Amazon Room, already having made a final table this year in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event, where he finished seventh. It was Alioto’s fourth WSOP final table inside of three years, and if he has his way, he’ll be taking another bracelet home to Italy at the end of the summer.

Dario Alioto was born in 1985 in Palermo, Italy. He loved sports as a kid, playing soccer and basketball in his younger years and switching to wrestling and judo in his teens. Alioto wrestled and practiced judo seriously, competing in tournaments, advancing to the national finals in both disciplines, and representing Italy in international events. After secondary school, Alioto enrolled in university in Budapest, Hungary and began studying to be a pharmacist. It was 2005, the dawn of the poker boom in Europe, and after learning to play hold’em with friends, Alioto found himself hooked. Poker reinvigorated his competitive side and he took it upon himself to study as much as he could about the game.

In the late summer of 2005, Alioto won a seat to the EPT Barcelona Open and ended up making the final table alongside a who’s who of European poker, including Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Christer Johansson, and eventual champion Jan Boubli. Alioto’s seventh-place finish earned him €52,000 and put him on the map. Alioto qualified online again for the EPT, earning a seat on the tour’s next stop in Baden, Austria and though he did not cash in the event, he returned to Budapest and decided to drop out of school. Alioto played cash games in Budapest for a few months before deciding to return home to Italy and take his game online. Under the handle “Ryu,” Alioto began crushing pot-limit Omaha cash games.

In the summer of 2007, Alioto’s poker career truly took off. He made his first WSOP final table in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha 8 or Better event, coming away with a sixth-place finish and $33,759. Less than a week later, in the $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Omaha event, Alioto placed 35th in one of the WSOP’s toughest fields that year. That fall, the WSOP expanded to Europe, dropping anchor at London’s Empire Casino where three more bracelets were awarded. It was there, on European soil, that Dario Alioto won his first WSOP bracelet, taking down the £5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event for a £234,390 payout. It was not an easy field to beat, the 156 entrants including poker giants like Doyle Brunson, Ted Forrest, Andy Bloch, Tony G, and fellow Italian Max Pescatori. Pescatori became a bit of a mentor to the 22-year-old, supporting Alioto from the rail throughout the final table and sharing in his post-game celebration.

Dario Alioto returned to the WSOP in 2008 and came away with four cashes and another final-table appearance. Alioto finished ninth in the $5,000 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven single draw event, 12th in the $2,500 Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw event, 19th in the $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Omaha event, and fourth in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha with Rebuys event for a total WSOP haul of $253,464. Along the way, he also picked up sponsorship with Full Tilt Poker, where he plays as a “red pro.” Alioto can frequently be found in the online pot-limit Omaha cash games, where he typically multi-tables at the $25/50 level and above.

Dario Alioto continues to call Palermo, Italy home.

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