In the theatre before the start Victoria Coren-Mitchell was talking eloquently about her chances of a second EPT win, whilst Sarah Grant talked to Frank op de Woerd of PokerNews about what was in store today. Television crew bustled around plugging things in and gaffer-taping things down. There was a definite sense of anticipation about the place. Something exciting was in store.
Outside meanwhile were three of the four Italians who will play this final table. Their demeanor was altogether different.
Sitting on the steps, wearing sunglasses and smoking cigarettes, were Giacomo Fundaro, Andrea Benelli and Bruno Stefanelli. If there were any nerves to be had they were being blown away with cigarette smoke, or exorcised by hand gestures and animated speech. There were the players on home turf and with nothing to lose. At one point a man on a scooter passed, said something to them, gestured with his finger tips at his chin, grinned, and scootered off.
Giacomo Fundaro in action yesterday
Of these three Giacomo Fundaro could prove the surprise package – a WPT title to his name from Mazagan in 2012 and a runner-up finish in St Maarten last November) – he has a cast-iron guaranteed way to win showdowns.
As the webcast begins on EPTLive keep an eye out for Fundaro’s secret weapon. Every now and then he’ll sip from a can of Coca-Cola. It would be easy to mistake this as the simple quenching of thirst, but no. It is in fact the formula that helped him amass a stack of 3.1 million at the close last night
“The coke, every level, every break, I buy one coke,” said Fundaro prior to the start. “Before, when I buy one coke for first time, I won my first showdown. After that I won a coin flip, and one more showdown. Now, every break, one coke for sure!”
So far it’s working for Fundaro, who has nipped into the lead in these early stages. In fact, the only thing that could go wrong would be if the casino sold out of the stuff, but he’s safe for now.
Full coverage of EPT Sanremo is on the main EPT Sanremo page. There’s hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top and feature pieces below.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.