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Max Pescatori: They Have to Pick a European for HoF at Some Point
Max “The Pirate” Pescatori is an Italian-born, Las Vegas-bred pro.
He’s played in the casinos of California just as much as those in his home country and around Europe.
He's the first European player to win four WSOP bracelets - two of them this summer. Which would normally make him the WSOP Player of the Year – except this year it didn’t.
A traveler with a never-ending curiosity for poker Pescatori plays all the games. He won his bracelets in Hold’em, PLO, Stud Hi-Lo and Razz, and he once came second in the $10k HORSE championship.
At the Prague Poker Festival Pescatori is playing, as expected, a ton of events and his first cash happened to be in the €10k OFC Progressive Pineapple high roller. PokerListings caught up with him shortly after.
PokerListings: Has “The Pirate” become a pineapple lover?
Max Pescatori: I learned about the game last year when I came back to Vegas from a trip to Europe.
I went into the Rio for the World Series and everyone was playing pineapple and simultaneously played another session on their tablets.
There were about 25 tables running simultaneously and I asked myself ‘what is this game, I need to know.'
I knew Chinese poker before, I played it a lot in California at the Commerce. Usually there were only Asian players and me at the table, but Open Face and Pineapple were new.
I was fascinated from the start so I stepped right in and have been learning about it ever since. I missed this event last year for business reasons but I’m happy that I can be here in Prague this year.
PL: You were sitting with Alexandra Usoltseva and she seemed to be killing it.
MP: Yes. You know, we actually met when I played my first OFC tournament in Italy. She was much better than me then but I have improved now.
Back at the tournament in Italy I just got really lucky and finished in second place. I got beat by a Russian, of course.
PL: Of course. By the way, congratulations on becoming the first European player with four bracelets. Is this more of a personal, national, or European victory?
MP: Thank you, yes. Good question. It’s not for Europe because us Europeans we compete against each other in all the rankings.
It’s certainly a victory for Italy, but mostly personal.
Back when I had two bracelets there were only five Europeans who had the same and no European had three.
Then I went several years without winning one and this year was just amazing.
I had gone through a bad period on and off the felt and came back so strong it’s indescribable.
PL: Did you know that according to the earlier WSOP formula you would have been Player of the Year?
MP: Yeah, I know, it’s disgusting! I mean, at the end of the day, the system has changed and so has the mindset of the players who are trying to win that title.
But still it’s kind of disgusting that for 10 years they had the same system and the year they changed it I would have won. But then, what can you do?
PL: You're 44 years old and you’ve played professionally since 1999. What are your chances to make it into the Poker Hall of Fame?
MP: I actually expected to be nominated this year. If I keep doing well I have a good chance over the coming years.
Also, there is no European in it, I believe, so they’ll have to pick one at some point.
PL: Or maybe being European is a problem.
MP: I think the system is the problem. The Hall of Fame was never really treated like a Hall of Fame. Now they’re changing that.
In Europe we now have even more poker coverage on TV than in the US but the problem is they don’t watch it. They don’t know about it and they don’t care.
Take Late Night Poker. It’s a major success all over Europe and they have never heard of it.
I think they should use more qualified journalists on the panel. Also, there are only four lines of introduction for every player who wants to be nominated.
How much can you say in four lines? I’ve played professionally for 16 years. I’m sure I’m missing out on what other players have done, too, because they can’t sum it up in four lines either.
These are things they have to change for a better selection process.
(ed. note: Pescatori actually would have been WSOP POY only according to 2009 formula. Incorrect information was used at time of interview)