EPT finds first Italian winner in Prague

Salvatore Bonavena

An Italian national finally won a PokerStars.com European Poker Tour event, but he may not be the one you were expecting.

Italian players such as online poker phenom Dario Minieri and Max Pescatori have represented Italy well in live events the past few years, but it took unknown player Salvatore Bonavena to post an EPT win for the nation.

"It was a dream for me, like most poker players have I think," Bonavena said in his interview with PokerListings. "I didn't actually know that I was the first Italian EPT Champion. It still hasn't sunk in that it has happened ... at the moment it still feels like a dream!"

He earned his win in style as well, coming into the final table of the event with the chip lead and leading the table on a roller-coaster ride to victory. Over the course of a 12-hour final table, Bonavena made questionable plays and decisions, lost the chip lead, regained, it lost it again, and still managed to get the win.

Eventually it came down to Bonavena and fellow Italian Massimo Di Cicco in heads-up action. No matter who came out on top, it was going to be a win for Italy, but Bonavena got the honors when his 8 7 outflopped Di Cicco's A 4.

The two were both all-in after they saw a flop of 8 3 2. Bonavena had top pair, and it was good over Di Cicco's straight draw. The turn brought the 6, and the river didn't bring a five or an ace to save Di Cicco.

The final table played out as follows:

Place Name Prize
1st Salvatore Bonavena €774,000
2nd Massimo Di Cicco €445,000
3rd Andrew Chen €257,000
4th Alexiou Konstandinos €199,000
5th Francesco Cirianni €166,000
6th Fredrik Nygard €130,000
7th Nasr El Nasr €99,500
8th Raul Mestre €71,800
9th Sebastian Ruthenberg €42,800

Dario Minieri was also in attendance for the EPT Prague event. He didn't make the final table, but he did cash in 47th place. Minieri also cheered on his fellow Italian players at the final table.

Some other familiar names in the money include Juha Helppi, Stefan Mattsson and Johnny Lodden.

For more in-depth coverage of the event, head to the Live Tournaments section.

That's it for the EPT for 2008, but the tour will get off to an early start again in 2009 with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure starting Jan. 5. The event will feature some of the world's top poker pros as well as online qualifiers from all around the world.

For your shot at qualifying for an EPT event, head to PokerStars.


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