Poker in Italy

History of Poker in Italy

Italy is credited with being the first country in Europe to really take to playing cards –a game called primiera–, and can even boast the first-ever treatise on the strategy involved in card games which was written during the Renaissance by a statistician of sorts!

However, Italy has only recently taken to the game of poker as we now know it, but the Italians have taken to the game very fast. With an emphasis on tournament poker, Italian players are some of the most fearless –some would say reckless, but then again that is what we originally thought of the Finnish players—tournament players in the world.

Italy was the first European country to legalize online poker back in 2008, but the legislation was originally limited to tournament poker, it wasn’t until 2011 that Italians would see online poker cash-games available to them.

Famous Italian Poker Players

Italians have only recently started making a name for themselves in the poker world, with only a few players having picked up the game before the poker boom –Jeffrey Lisandro being the most famous of the bunch, but also Marco Traniello and Max Pescatori.

In recent years it has been the World Series of Poker that has brought the skill of the Italians to the eyes of the poker world, with players like Dario Minieri and Filippo Candio making deep WSOP runs. However, we should also point out that many players from around the world from Italian heritage are amongst some of the top players in poker, such as the UK’s Roberto Romanello.

Here is a look at the top Italian poker players as well as some of their accomplishments:

Allesio Isaia poker player Allesio Isaia

  • 2011 WPT Venice Champion
  • Full Tilt Poker red pro
  • Nearly $2 million in career tournament earnings
  • He chopped the FTOPS Heads-Up Championship title back in 2010


Dario Minieri poker Dario Minieri

  • Considered top young Italian poker pro
  • WSOP bracelet winner in 2008
  • Nearly $2 million in career tournament earnings
  • Three EPT Final Tables
  • Team PokerStars Pro


Jeff Lisandro Jeffrey Lisandro

  • 5 WSOP Bracelets
  • Won 3 WSOP Bracelets in 2009 in three separate Stud tournaments
  • 2009 WSOP Player of the Year
  • $4.75 million in career tournament earnings
  • Recently signed with as sponsored pro


Luca Pagano Poker Luca Pagano

  • Well respected Italian pro
  • Closing in on $2 million in career tournament earnings
  • IPT San Remo Champion
  • SIX EPT Final tables
  • Team PokerStars Pro


Filippo Candio poker Filippo Candio

  • 2010 WSOP November Nine member
  • Finished 4th in 2010 WSOP Main Event
  • 2009 Italian Championship Main Event winner
  • Over $3.3 million in career tournament earnings


Online Poker in Italy

Italy was the first country in the European Union to tackle the issue of online poker, and in 2008 the country decided to legalize online poker, but only tournament poker, and the games would only be available to players residing in Italy. So while the country was happy to see online poker legalized and regulated, they were effectively cut-off from the rest of the online poker market and were unable to participate in cash-games, something that initially sent the Italian poker community into a tizzy.

In 2011 Italy revisited its online poker legislation and decided to allow licensed sites to also offer cash games to Italian players.

Many countries have followed Italy’s lead in passing online poker legislation, and while it’s a far cry from the UK’s very lax online poker policy, the fact that countries like Italy are protecting their citizens by regulating the industry is an important step forward for online poker.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in the Italy:

pokerstars site

  • Over 50,000 players online at any given time
  • Team PokerStars Italy: Dario Minieri, Luca Pagano, Pier Paolo Fabretti, and Gigi Buffon
  • Fully licensed by the Italian government for tournaments and cash games

party poker Party Poker

  • Over 10,000 players online at any given time
  • Large Italian poker network
  • Fully licensed by the Italian Government for tournaments and cash games

  • Second largest online poker network
  • Fully licensed by the Italian government for tournaments and cash games


Where to play poker in Italy

Live Poker in Italy is a little harder to come by, as the country does not have a very deep tradition in either poker, or casino style gambling. There are roughly 12 casinos throughout Italy that offer poker games, and most of these have very sparse poker rooms, or offer a few tables at the most.

Perhaps the most famous poker room in Italy can be found at the Casino de la Vallée S.P.A in Saint Vincent, or the Casino di Campione in Campione, which has played host to numerous IPT poker tournaments.

Like most European casinos, you must be 18 years of age to enter a casino in Italy, and must be dressed appropriately.

Poker laws in Italy

Italian poker laws have been undergoing some major changes in recent years: First Italy licensed and regulated online poker, but only tournaments. Now the country has revisited their online gaming laws and added cash games licenses to the mix. With the addition of cash games Italy now has to be considered amongst the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to online poker.

As far as live poker games go you can expect similar laws to the rest of Europe when it comes to playing private games: Which is, as long as the house is not profiting its, “la dolce vita!”

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