Andrea Dato has more than $1m in lifetime winnings, earned from an approach to poker that is both scientific and psychology based.
With just eight players left in the EPT Barcelona main event right now, he's the only one with any previous international acclaim with a WPT title in his pocket.
Even after losing a big pot yesterday with kings against aces, the former engineer still sits fifth in the chip counts and seems poised to go all the way to his first EPT title.
Whatever happens, though, Dato knows to take his game to the next level he'll have to leave his home in Italy. PokerListings Germany's Dirk Oetzmann caught up with him on a late break.
PokerListings: You seem very confident at the tables at the moment. Even your body language seems to send a message.
Andrea Dato: Yes, I am. Actually, sitting at the TV table with cameras and microphones helps me. I play best when I am under pressure.
Comfortable under the lights.
Also, I know that other players at the tables play differently at a TV table. I wouldn’t say worse, but more straightforward, so it’s easier for me to put them on a range.
Me, I don’t care about cameras or microphones. I used to work as an assistant teacher at a university, and I was giving lessons to an audience of 150 people, so I’m used to the feeling of everybody watching you.
On the other hand, it is fairly easy to spot the online players. They tend to get a little bit nervous and shaky, because they are not used to the lights.
PL: As opposed to a lot of Italian players, you still live in Italy. Are you going to stay?
AD: No. One year from now, I’ll probably live in London.
I will definitely move, because if you play in Italy, your development as a player is very limited. The highest level online is €5/€10, but if you want to be one of the top players worldwide you have to play higher, and you have to play on .com.
So, as an Italian player you have no choice but to move to a place where players are better – even where they might be worse, taxes are lower and you have the proper environment.
Every country has its own style and if you want to improve you have to relate to different styles. You have to be in contact with different players.
So, London is the place to go. The weather is terrible but everything else is just perfect for a poker player.
PL: London is not for everybody. It’s huge, it’s incredibly busy and it can swallow you up. Do you think you can cope with this?
AD: I grew up in Rome.
PL: Moving on. You came to play the Battle of Malta last year. Luca Moschitta just moved there and the largest group pf players at the BOM are Italians. How does that sound?
AD: It sounds great. Although I have to tell you, I wouldn’t want to live in Malta because it’s such a small island. I know people there and I enjoyed playing the BOM. I might even come back.
PL: Being an engineer you have dealt a lot with mathematics. Does your education help you in poker?
AD: It has actually helped me a lot, because I could develop a scientific approach to the game.
Dato hopes to add an EPT title to his trophy case.
PL: Does that mean you work with odds and probabilities a lot?
AD: Not just that. But I know that you need to study it. Poker is a problem-solving game. You are confronted with a series of problems.
You are presented with several conditions. Some of them are face up and some of them are unknown. You make your estimate and then you act accordingly.
It’s not just staring in people’s face, but it’s also not too complicated.
Ok, just now I lost with kings to aces, no science involved. But even after this hand I feel good, I feel like I can do well in this tournament.
Watch Dato's efforts under the lights of the final table on the EPT100 Live Stream right here.