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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now - Dario Minieri

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

Dario Minieri may very well be the idol or the envy of every young poker player in Italy—in fact maybe the world. Minieri is one of the new breed of European poker stars, like Ilari ‘Ziigmund’ Sahamies and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier—they are charismatic, young, and aggressive. Their zest for life and poker, appeals to the online community as well as making them targets for every cameraman at live tournament events.

Born in 1985, in Rome, Italy, Dario had a plan for life: He would study psychology to secure a respectable profession and provide a comfortable income. Like in many European households, the children—Dario—could then ensure that the parents could always maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to. When he discovered the card game Magic: The Gathering, at the age of 16, no one could predict that Minieri’s life was about to take a drastic detour—a detour that would bring both fame and fortune to the young player.

Dario embraced Magic with a true eagerness, the way he faces every aspect of his life and he soon realized that he could compete and win at the game—before long he was traveling the country, playing in as many Magic tournaments as he could. It was during one of these journeys that a traveling companion introduced him to PokerStars—the detour that would lead down a path to the life of a professional poker player.

Minieri started playing low limit sit n go’s and heads-up matches on PokerStars under the screen name "Dariominieri," but would advance so rapidly that he would soon earn the sites highest ranking of ‘Supernova Elite’ and eventually become a member of Team PokerStars Pro. Dario became obsessed with the game of poker and was soon multi-tabling 8 to 12 games at one time, playing anywhere from 10 to 16 hours per day.

His decision to play poker professionally came after he turned a $10 with re-buys tournament into a $12,000 win. The decision was a very profitable one; while playing on PokerStars one day in December of 2007, he won three separate tournaments and went deep in the Sunday Million, winning a total of $155,000. In January of the following year he found himself heads-up against Issac Baron, vying for the $100,000 prize at the 20 player, PokerStars Winner-Take-All Freeze Out tournament. With a 3 to 1 chip lead Minieri offered Baron a deal, but when Baron wanted more of a cut, Minieri recanted his offer, sent Baron packing and went home with the full $100,000.

He is the first (and maybe the only) player to accumulate enough Frequent Player Points (FPP)—over 3,000,000—to buy a Porsche Cayman S from the PokerStars play. It is either true dedication or pure insanity to devote that many hands, hours, days and months to buying a car that will go from 0-60 in five seconds, with a top speed of 171 mph—when you don’t even have a driver’s license. Apparently you have to be in the country (Italy) for two months prior to taking the driving test and Minieri can’t seem to stay put for that long at one time.

Dario made his first cash on PokerStars European Poker Tour by placing 22nd at the Grand Final in Monte Carlo in Season 2 and then had three consecutive 3rd place finishes: Baden in Season 3—San Remo in Season 4—Warsaw in season 5—for a combined total of nearly $800,000.

He also has several World Series of Poker (WSOP) cashes. In 2007 he was actually chip leader after day three of the Main Event and eventually finishing in 96th place out of a field of 6358 entries. In 2008 Dario accomplished what most poker players just dream of, he won a WSOP bracelet in the $2,500 No-Limit Holdem Six-Handed event, beating out a field of 1,012 players and earning $528,418.

The diminutive Dario seems to be a player that is either loved or hated, often referred to as an aggressive, ruthless ‘Italian Imp,’—easily identified by his Harry Potter look and the maroon and gold-striped scarf that has become his trademark. Most people believe the scarf is his good luck charm, when in fact, Dario insists that, “The scarf is not a luck thing,” he says. “It’s just that I am proud to be from Rome and I don’t want to forget that—that I’m proud to be from Italy and from Rome,” he repeated.

Minieri is also passionate about football, it makes him happy, and so when he is wearing the scarf (a symbol of his beloved Roma) he is constantly reminded of the things that are important to him. “So if I bust out I’m not so upset. It is similar to my PokerStars sponsorship – when I am running bad I can look at my sponsorship and be proud of that – it gives me confidence,” he says—with a soft smile and a twinkle in his dark eyes.

The twinkle is always there when Dario speaks of any of his three loves in life: Poker, football, and Italy. He likens poker to a sport—he is adamant that it is not gambling—because it requires such skill. “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. It’s a mind sport but it is still a sport – you also need to be physically ready to play,” he says.

He is pleased to see that the popularity of poker in his homeland has dramatically risen in recent years and that Holdem has hit the Italian poker scene. He is proud of his own accomplishments to date, but also boasts of fellow players like Mauro Stivoli, winner of the World Heads-Up Poker Championship in Barcelona and Alessio Isaia as up-and-coming Italian players to watch out for.

The young Italian player who is also known as ‘Supernova’ or the ‘Italian Harry Potter,’ is currently ranked 3rd on the Italian all-time money winner list. Minieri hopes that one day he will be at the top of the money list for the world and be one of the most recognized and respected players—although he admits that right now Patrik Antonius is the idol of all Europe—so Dario—today Europe, tomorrow the world.

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