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Viva Italia! Max Pescatori Wins It (and Italy Does Too)
Today was Italy's day in more ways than one. The final game in the World Cup of Soccer took place between Italy and France, and unless you live in a box, you all know the outcome of that game. But just in case, Italy beat France 5-3 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. (Sorry, am I rubbing it in? Can't help it, I'm Italian too).
Then, to add to the victorious day, a gentleman by the name of Max Pescatori went on to win the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Event at the WSOP. Born and raised in Italy, Pescatori is floating somewhere between cloud nine and the surreal. Beating out Anthony Reategui with a jack-high straight, Pescatori walks away with $682,389 and a shiny new piece of jewelry. I had the pleasure to talk with the smooth Italian player shortly after his victory and get the lowdown on his absolutely perfect day.
How are you feeling right now?
I'm feeling great. It hasn't even sunk in, but I'm feeling great.
You played for a long time - is exhaustion setting in?
No. I could go run a marathon right now. I may crash later, but right now, I could do anything. I could go play tennis. Let's go!
How are you going to celebrate this win?
I'll be going out to dinner with friends. I guess it's traditional. I won another game, it wasn't for a bracelet, it was a small tournament. We'll go somewhere different. No wild night tonight. I'm a calm guy.
Tell us a bit about your experience in the World Series.
This is my first World Series bracelet, but not my first time in the World Series. I made it to a final table last year and cashed six times.
How did your playing strategy in this year's tournament differ from last year's World Series?
Last year and the year before, I played a lot of mixed games, but this year I dedicated myself to No-Limit. Even for the last couple of years, I've been focusing on No-Limit. But still, last year I was a little bit off my game, and now I really feel like I played at the top level.
How do you feel your final opponent, Anthony Reategui played?
Anthony's a very good player. I've played with him before at another final table at the Mirage. At that time he finished fifth. I didn't win the title there, because I had very little chips. It's difficult to play against Anthony, but it's fun to play against him. He's a very nice guy. He doesn't get upset if he loses. He's very respectful.
How do you feel you played at the final table tonight?
I really played perfect. I don't think you could play any better. Everything clicked in, and everything was perfect. One time, I moved in on the river, but I knew I could've had him beat, and I could've milked him for a little bit more money. But that's not really a mistake if he falls for it, and I win the pot.
So give us the rundown on the final hand. How did it play out?
I had J-8 and the flop came 6-7-10. Anthony bet and since I was the chip leader, I raised him. And when he pushed all-in, it was okay, I was ready to gamble because I would've had two million against 1.2 million. It was okay, I was ready to do it.
Did you feel a lot of pressure going into this final table?
I felt no pressure. I was calm. I was excited because of Italy winning the World Cup, but I was never really under pressure. It was good. I was calm and ready to win.
Did you get a chance to watch Italy play in the World Cup soccer game today?
Oh yeah, I woke up an hour early, watched the pre-game show, then watched the whole game.
How does it feel to have your win here today coupled with Italy's win?
You cannot get any better than that. There's nothing that could happen that could be better in life than winning a bracelet and Italy winning the World Cup.
Were you born and raised in Italy?
Yes, born and raised there, and then I moved here to America when I was 23. I didn't speak English either. I just moved here to try a new adventure.
When did you start playing poker?
I played in Italy with friends occasionally, but there was no Hold'em. We'd play Five-Card Draw. It was more of a fun thing to do. Of course, I was trying to make money, and I was making a little bit. I've been playing cards forever. I won my first trophy when I was 11 in an Italian game called "Scopa." I won second place out of 32 father and son teams. Card games are in my blood.
Are you going to be entering the Main Event?
Yes. I'll play every event this year, every event that I can.
What are you going to do with the money you won?
I don't know yet. I'm not thinking about that right now. It's not about the money. I can always make money playing poker. But I think I will upgrade my car.
What advice would you give an aspiring poker player hoping to play in the World Series?
Come and play, and if you lose, it's okay. But this is a fantastic event. It's a great atmosphere for beginners. Anybody can win. Luck is a big factor in winning, especially when there's 1,300 people in an event.
Thanks, Max and congratulations.