We watched him win EPT Prague with inventive play and a bubbly personality that endeared him to the rail. Since that day in 2008, Salvatore Bonavena, the Team PokerStars Pro, has gone on to yet more success with live winnings totaling $2.2 million. Now he is poised for another big score after making the final table of PokerStars IPT San Remo.
Italian Bonavena is second in chips (1,355,000) going in to today's showdown, behind previous IPT winner Oleksii Kovalchuk from the Ukraine (1,970,000), and in a great position to bag the €175,000 first prize on home soil.
The final, which begins at 2pm local time, also includes a Supernova Elite and PokerStars qualifiers. You can follow all the action (in Italian) on our sister Italian PokerStars Blog.
Gianfranco Mazzariello 455,000
Businessman Gianfranco is a 38-year-old player from Rimini. He has been playing poker for the last four years on PokerStars with the UserID bende73. Previously, he finished 4th at the last IPT Nova Gorica and 6th place at a €1,100 side event at IPT San Marino. Online, he placed 10th in the Sunday Million a few years ago.
Oleksii Kovalchuk 1,970,000
Oleksii is from Kiev, Ukraine and plays on PokerStars with the UserID somnium89. The 21 year old recently won IPT Nova Gorica and now he's seriously one of the few players who can win the IPT Leader board and the PokerStars sponsorship for Season 4. His record is impressive and includes a bracelet in the $2,500 No Limit Hold'em - Six Handed event at the 2011 WSOP, for a $689,739 prize, first place at the Russian Poker Tour for a $123,456 prize, first place at the IPT Nova Gorica 2011 for €150,000.
Salvatore Bonavena 1,355,000
Salvatore Bonavena, 46, is a member of the PokerStars Team Pro from Italy. He has been playing poker for five years with excellent results (Salvatore plays on PokerStars with the UserId bonaven"). Anybody who loves poker knows Bonavena, and PokerStars Blog regularly makes a feature out of his smart attire. It's called the Sal Bon Fashion Report.
Fabio Cetara 840,000
Fabio is a 24-year-old Italian player from Brescia. He's been playing poker for three years and on PokerStars with the UserID giocoacaso87. Fabio is no stranger to the tables - when he is not playing, he is a dealer! He's planning to use his winning to increase his bankroll and to go on holiday.
Alberto Spigolon 1,110,000
Alberto has been playing poker since 2007 and his best performance is a 6th place at the €1,100 Side event during EPT San Remo for a prize of €6,500. When he does not play poker, the 47-year-old Italian works as a retailer.
Marco Fabbrini 1,115,000
Marco, 43, plays on PokerStars with the UserID juegocards. He's been playing poker for three years now. His best results include a 15th place at the EPT San Remo (€30,000), a 40th place at the IPT Campione 2011 (CHF 3,900), and a 36th place at the IPT Venice (€4,700 prize).
Andrea Vitale 740,000
Andrea plays on PokerStars with the UserID killermimmo. He's been playing poker for six years and his best performances include a 4th place at the €500 Side event Pot Limit Omaha during IPT San Remo for a €2,985 prize, and a 8th place at the Mini IPT Campione for a CHF 4,600 prize. Andrea, 43, qualified on PokerStars for this event.
Fabio Pilato 1,140,000
Fabio, 33, only has one live cash to his name - but he has certainly made his mark online. Playing on PokerStars with the UserID vaffancallme, he is a Supernova Elite and used his package to enter IPT San Remo for free. Not a bad return!