Luca Pagano’s progress through this tournament has been something of a throwback to the early seasons of the European Poker Tour. Back then, it was pretty much a certainty that the Italian would be hanging round the tournament room for long enough to secure yet another cash and we used to leave off talking to Pagano until the late stages because he was such a lock to still be involved.
Not too much has changed — Pagano’s season four culminated in an appearance around the final table of the Grand Final in Monte Carlo, a run that earned him the popular nomination as the EPT Player of the Year — but he has slightly tinkered with his style. He plays notably looser these days, a necessary adaptation to cope with a much more aggressive general standard, but a move that has also coincided with the super-volatile Dario Minieri’s appearance alongside Pagano on Team PokerStars Pro. Coincidence, obviously. (Ahem.)
That said, the performance here in Dortmund seems to have been vintage Pagano. He has been a fixture on some of the tournament’s toughest tables, slogging out much of day 1b alongside Julian Thew, Marcel Luske and Nico Behling, for example. But he kept his head both down and yet comfortably above water, and watched all of them depart while he progressed steadily onward.
Now, during the third level of day two, Pagano has hit his high water mark. He has something like 120,000, the result firstly of hitting a straight to better Oskar Silow’s flopped set, and then chipping up and up and up to take him into six figures.
The tournament officials rewarded Pagano by breaking the table and sending him to sit on inarguably among the toughest group to date. It features William Thorson and Max Pescatori, among others, sitting behind a combined total of about 700,000 chips. The average among the remaining 120 players is 55,000, so they are punching way above their weight.