Who Are The Five Biggest Winning Italian Poker Players?

The top five Italian live MTT winners

Italy is a beautiful country steeped in history, but how good are Italian poker players? Italians are passionate people who aren’t afraid to display their emotions, which isn’t the best trait to have when it comes to being success in poker.

The top five Italian players, when it comes to live MTTs, have won $37,394,888 between them. That’s an impressive sum considering their online poker playing is restricted so satellite to live events don’t happen.

Let’s take a look at the biggest winning Italian players and see how many you recognize.

Dario Sammartino is the Top Italian Live MTT Player

Italian superstar Dario Sammartino finished 2nd in the 2019 WSOP Main Event

Dario Sammartino is the top Italian poker player right now. Sammartino was born in Naples, Italy, but now lives in neighboring Slovenia. He moved so he had access to all the available online poke sites.

Sammartino first recorded a live poker MTT cash on November 28. An eighth-place finish in a €1,100 event in Egypt netted him €3,800 ($4,781). Now he plays in tournaments with 100-times the buy-in.

The Italian has $14,573,846 in live tournament earnings and a few more million from online poker. Sammartino’s runner-up finish in the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event yielded $6 million. He’s reached several WSOP final tables, including a third-place exit in the 2017 $111,111 High Roller worth $1,608,295.

Mustapha Kanit Lives in Vienna But Is Definitely Italian

Mustapha Kanit live in Vienna but is 100% Italian

Mustapha Kanit is another Italian who emigrated from his native Italy to continue his online poker career. It’s a move that’s gone well judging by his $6,665,799 in online winnings. Kanit has $11,566,695 in live tournament earnings also.

Kanit’s best online score weighs in at $1,304,720. This was his reward for winning a PokerStars SCOOP Main Event in 2015. His best live cash is even larger. Kanit walked away with €1,462,000 ($1,653,491) for a second-place finish in a €100,000 Super High Roller in April 2016. It’s in these Super High Roller events where Kanit excels.

He has an EPT title, but has only recorded a single cash on the WPT. Kanit does have three WSOP final table appearance, but a bracelet still eludes him.

Max Pescatori is the Italian Pirate

Max Pescatori is the only Italian with four WSOP bracelets

The charismatic Max Pescatori is known as the Italian Pirate because of him previously flamboyant attire. Pescatori has been around for an age, with his first recorded live cash happening in June 2002. He’s racked up $4,620,846 in winnings since then and is well-respected on the circuit.

The Italian has four WSOP bracelets to his name, all in different formats. His first came in a $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event in 2006. Victory in a $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Omaha event in 2008 saw bracelet number two come his way. Pescatori won his third bracelet in a $1,500 Razz event in 2015. He also won the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship in 2015.

Filippo Candio Reached the 2010 WSOP Main Event

Filippo Candio

Filippo Candio comes in at number four on the Italian all-time money listing despite hardly playing the game anymore. Candio burst onto the scene in 2009 with a €140,000 ($185,271) score in €2,200 event in Italy. Several deep runs over the next few months gave Candio the confidence to head to Las Vegas.

Candio only cashed twice at the 2010 WSOP but one of those was huge. The Italian navigated his way to the final table of the $10,000 Main Event. His deep run netted him a sponsorship deal with the now-defunct Full Tilt Poker. His eventual fourth-place exit saw his bankroll swell by $3,092,545.

That prize makes up the bulk of Candio’s $3,498,972 poker winnings.

Former Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena

Salvatore Bonavena

Salvatore Bonavena, “Sal Bon” to the poker media, is fifth in the Italian all-time money listings. Bonavena’s live poker tournament grinds have netted him $3,134,528.

His biggest cash to date weighs in at €774,000 ($992,893). The Italian banked this after winning the 2008 EPT Prague Main Event. PokerStars snapped up Bonavena as their Italian representative and he travelled the world with their patch on.

More recently, Bonavena’s poker playing has taken a back seat with only two cashes in two years.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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