Pagano Makes Record 6th EPT Final

Luca Pagano
A record total of 13 cashes and six final tables make Italian Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano the EPT's most prolific player.

In an inconsistent game playing on one of the game’s most inconsistent tours, Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano has somehow found a way to be consistent, making a record sixth final table at PokerStars EPT Prague Saturday.

“There is no secret,” he told PokerListings. “It’s a little bit because of my style of game. I am very solid and I don’t take that many risks. And it’s a little bit because this year we have a new structure with more chips and a lot of play, which is giving solid players like me more opportunity to find the right spots.”

When the money bubble burst at EPT Prague on Day 3 and Pagano was still standing, the Italian was guaranteed a record 13th cash on the EPT.

However, the most prolific player in EPT history admitted skill isn’t the only reason he’s been incredibly consistent.

“This is probably a year where I’m getting some good cards as well,” he said. “I would say it’s a mix of luck and adapting to the new structure.

“The fact that I’m getting good results and a player like (Jan) Skampa is making another final table as well, is showing that playing the right way, with some luck and according to the structure, can be very good for professional players.”

After finishing fourth at EPT Vilamoura just weeks ago, Skampa, a budding superstar from right here in the Czech Republic, will enter Sunday’s final with the chip lead.

It’s just his fourth European Poker Tour event, but he believes the experience of Vilamoura will prove invaluable to him here at home.

 “It’s a tremendous help that just two weeks ago I was playing in similar situations,” he said. “In Vilamoura I had a somewhat difficult seat draw for the final table and now it’s somewhat better. But it really was the best possible training for this situation.”

Outside of the venerable Pagano, Skampa’s biggest threat appears to be Purple Lounge Pro Stefan Mattson, who will bring a massive stack and the experience of both a WPT and WSOP final table to Sunday’s fight for a €682,000 first-place prize.

“I feel really confident,” Mattsson said. “I knocked out some of the toughest players in the tournament as well so I’m feeling really good. Jan has a big stack, so he’s still a big threat, but otherwise, I feel very comfortable at this final table.

“I don’t think I will get quite as nervous as the other guys. I don’t even think about the pressure.”

Joining Pagano, Mattson and Skampa in the final is the suddenly red hot Anthony Roux, who now adds an EPT final table to the WSOP and WSOPE finals the Winamax pro has found himself at this year.

And with half the group full of top pros it appears the EPT has made some strides in distancing itself from a reputation that its final tables are often filled with unknown players.

Although, the second half of the group still includes relative unknowns Larry Ryan from Ireland, Germany’s Sven Eichelbaum, Swede Gustav Ekerot and Israeli Eyal Avitan.

Despite his record number of cashes and final tables, a win on the EPT has still eluded Pagano, but with another opportunity right in front of him Sunday, he believes a breakthrough is in the cards.

 “I know that it’s the only thing I’m missing, but it will come,” he said. “I just have to play my game. I think I proved to myself that I can play poker and the trophy will come.”

To follow all the action from the PokerStars EPT Prague final table, beginning at 12 p.m. CET Sunday, click through to PokerListings’ Live Updates.

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