What a year it’s been for Dario Sammartino!

We’ve said this on the PokerStars Blog so many times in 2019 that we should have a keyboard shortcut for it. Throughout every season, in seemingly every possible venue, the man from Naples has been in top form. He has racked up multiple High Roller Club victories, he won High-tier titles during both SCOOP and WCOOP, he won the EPT’s inaugural 6+ Hold’em tournament, and he appeared at three WSOP final tables, including a runner-up finish in the Main Event.

All-stars on Dario Sammartino’s WSOP rail

All told, he has won $6.45 million playing live poker and hundreds of thousands more online.

The latest of the Italian pro’s accomplishments came two weeks back when he conquered WCOOP’s $10,300 NLHE 8-Max Progressive Knockout event. The field of 148 was composed of some of the world’s best poker players, including finalists David “dpeters17” Peters and Steve “Mr. Tim Caum” O’Dwyer. Sammartino outlasted them all to win more than $370,000 in prizes and bounties.

Sammartino recently told us about how he’s processed all his recent success, which aspect of this year he felt was his “appointment with history,” and what his plans are for the future.


Congratulations on all your victories this year. Between SCOOP, WCOOP, and the WSOP, your profile couldn’t be higher right now. When you first started playing poker, did your biggest dreams of success in the game look something like what you have experienced in 2019?

The WSOP’s final three (l-r): Sammartino, Hossein Ensan, Alex Livingston

Thanks, I’m glad to hear that. Yes, you are correct, this has been an amazing year for me.

When I started to play poker, my biggest dream was to became the best in the world. I have worked really hard and I’ve been wanting this success for a long time. This was my career goal and finally I realized it. My philosophy is that you can do everything if you put your mind to it. I really achieved a lot and I felt my dream came true this year.

What has been the most satisfying aspect of all your success this year? The money, the recognition of your peers, winning against top competition — maybe getting to wear a sharp suit on international television?

For sure the money is an important aspect of this success, but it isn’t the most important part. The most satisfying aspect was all the experience I gained this year from my successes. I learned so much and I am so glad about that. I started to know myself better, and to change my priorities and my goals in relation to the future. I am very happy for my career and the direction that it took, but I’m also very excited for my personal growth as a human being.

It is funny — as a matter of fact I always dreamed of wearing a really sharp suit on TV! When I made it to the WSOP final table this summer I felt I was finally keeping my personal appointment with history.

Sharp-dressed Sammartino keeps his appointments

You play the High Roller Club events on PokerStars regularly and have enjoyed significant success there. When you are playing during WCOOP and SCOOP, or even in live events, how helpful is it that you have significant experience facing these top players in weekly tournaments?

Those type of games are very important for me in order to train and to gain information about other players and their games. This practice is like going to the gym for me. Basically, those are the type of games that allow me to face the best players in the world and also learn from it. Poker is a game that keeps evolving and if you don’t follow it consistently it is very easy to switch from winning to losing.

You won the first EPT 6+ Hold’em tournament at Monte Carlo earlier this year, and your SCOOP title also came in 6+. What aspects of the game appeal to you most, and do you think we’ll be seeing more short deck tournaments into the future?

Dario Sammartino

Dario Sammartino in action earlier this year at EPT Monte Carlo

Yes, I love 6+ Hold’em. It is a very fast game and I am having almost more fun playing this than standard Texas hold’em. It is a pretty new game and I generally like playing new games, since it is stimulating and exciting for my mind. I also think it will be more and more popular in the future since it is fast and it will fit also other type of players like businessmen and not just poker pros.

You play online poker from abroad rather than your home country of Italy. What kind of hardships are involved with in living in another country to pursue your profession?

Obviously in my career I had to sacrifice different aspects of my life. Living outside my country and my city, Naples, means spending less time with my family, which is such an important part of my life. But all those sacrifices allowed me to arrive where I have arrived today.

In my perspective Italian players are penalized in two ways. First, they are forced to play just against Italian players on the .IT website and then when they have to face different players from all over the world they are not prepared and they don’t have the right knowledge. Second, Italian players are also penalized thanks to the taxation which is in my opinion ridiculous and incorrect. Those systems don’t allow people to pursue their dreams and be free.

In the end it all comes down to the opportunity that we have in life. Having more opportunity relates directly to more success.

Sammartino made the most of his opportunity at the WSOP

What does the rest of the year look like for you, live and online? And what do you think we can expect from you in the future?

The rest of the year I think I will not play as much online as I did in the past. However, I will still play some Sunday tournaments. On the other hand, for live games I will probably play the WSOP Europe in Rozvadov and EPT Prague.

Other than those I would like to focus on myself, my personal happiness and growth, and spending time my family. I am also trying to start new projects outside the poker world that are more focused on helping communities and people. I feel like poker gave me so much and now it is time for me to give back to people.

Thanks so much for all your questions.


WSOP photography by pokerphotoarchive.com

Jason has covered poker since 2005. He lives in Washington state with his wife and three dogs.

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