Dario Sammartino’s career highlight reel includes a runner-up finish in the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event. The 34-year-old native of Naples, Italy took part in one of the most controversial hands in WSOP history on the way to that finish, which lives on in poker lore.
Sammartino broke through in the high roller tournament scene in 2015, and has since produced a poker resume that stands up to just about anyone else in the game. Always a threat in any tournament he enters, Sammartino’s best years might still be ahead of him in the world of high-stakes tournament poker.
Let’s take a look at the career of Dario Sammartino, including the aforementioned controversy from the 2019 WSOP:
Dario Sammartino’s Tournament Results and Biggest Cashes
As of May 2021, Dario Sammartino’s career poker tournament earnings total $14,573,846. Sammartino’s five biggest tournament scores include:
- 2019 World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship (2nd – $6,000,000)
- 2017 World Series of Poker $111,111 High Roller for One Drop (3rd – $1,608,295)
- 2015 EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller (4th – €709,500)
- 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller 8-Handed (3rd – $542,160)
- 2017 PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo €25,750 High Roller Eight Max (4th – €384,340)
Take a look at Sammartino’s entire history of tournament poker results at his Hendon Mob page.
Dario Sammartino’s Memorable Hands
Sammartino played a part in one of the most controversial hands of the 2019 WSOP Main Event, on his way to a second-place finish. With just 11 players left in the tournament, Sammartino and Nick Marchington got involved in a pot that put Marchington’s tournament life at risk.
The situation began to unravel when the dealer gave Sammartino an inaccurate verbal count of Marchington’s stack, and chaos ensued. Joey Ingram takes us through the hand in this video from Ingram’s YouTube channel:
With the blinds at 400,000/800,000, Sammartino opens to 1,700,000 with T♠ T♥ from the hijack. Marchington three-bet shoves for 22,200,000 with Q♥ Q♦ from the small blind, and the action folds back around to Sammartino.
Sammartino asks for a count on Marchington’s shove, and the dealer declares an amount of 17.2 million. Sammartino calls, but as he does fellow player Alex Livingston corrects the dealer’s count. The dealer then declares the correct 22.2 million count, but by that time Sammartino has already pushed calling chips toward the middle.
The dealer calls the floor, and at that point, neither player has turned over their cards. The floor rules that Sammatino’s call stands, and both players then flip over their holdings.
With the hole cards exposed, Sammartino explains to the floor person that he thought he was calling 17.2 million, and wouldn’t have called if he knew Marchington’s shove was actually for 22.2 million. The flop comes out 4♦ 7♠ 8♣ as Sammartino is still pleading his case.
The discussion between Sammartino and the floor goes on for several minutes, and finally WSOP Vice President Jack Effel is summoned to the table. Despite Sammartino’s pleas, Effel rules that Sammartino pushing in calling chips represents an accepted action, and by WSOP rules the call is final.
“You’re calling 17, you’re calling 22,” Effel says. That comment caused a stir in the poker community, with some of Sammartino’s peers contending that Effel was needling Sammartino on top of the already tense situation.
The dealer puts out a 6♦ on the turn and J♠ on the river, clinching the double for Marchington. Things did turn out well for Sammartino despite this controversial hand, as he went on to finish second in the Main Event for a $6,000,000 payday.
Slow Rolling Ole Schemion?
The following hand also drew the ire of some in the poker world, but this time it’s Sammartino’s conduct that comes into question. The pot takes place at the 2015 EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller, and the money bubble is just a couple of eliminations away.
With a nearly €200,000 min-cash on the line, this hand between two of the world’s best tournament players is joined in progress:
All five community cards are already on the board, with Q♥ 7♣ J♦ 7♠ 4♦ on the table. Schemion, in the big blind, has gone all-in on the river, and Sammartino goes into the tank.
Sammartino mulls over the decision for several minutes, at one point waving his hands in the vicinity of Schemion’s face in an apparent effort to get a physical read. Schemion’s response to that is a none-too-pleased glare, after which Sammartino continues his tank.
Sammartino eventually calls, showing J♥ J♣ for a full house and the third nuts. Schemion turns over A♣ A♠, incredulous that Sammartino took several minutes to make the call with such a strong hand.
The hand prompted much discussion in the poker community, including a Reddit thread debating the ethics of Sammartino’s behavior in the spot. Sammartino eventually finished fourth in the tournament for a €709,500 ($782,465) payday, while Schemion finished out of the money.
Sammartino’s Path to Professional Poker
Born in April 1987, Sammartino began playing poker as an 18-year-old around 2005. He began his poker journey as an online player on PokerStars, along with regular appearances in the live poker clubs in his native Italy.
Sammartino grinded low and mid-stakes live tournaments for several years, before making a career-high score in the 2015 EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final €100,000 Super High Roller. The hand involving Sammartino and Ole Schemion that we looked at earlier in this article marked the biggest spot of Sammartino’s career up to that point, and he eventually finished fourth in that tournament for €709,500 ($782,465).
Sammartino posted another six-figure cash later in that same series, finishing sixth in the €25,500 High Roller for €257,400 ($286,902). High-stakes buy-ins and massive payouts start to become the norm for Sammartino after the 2015 EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final, as the series vaulted him into status as a high roller tournament fixture.
The No. 1 player on Italy’s all-time tournament earnings list, Sammartino is best known for his run to a second-place finish in the 2019 WSOP Main Event. He scored his career-high biggest cash in that tournament, finishing second to Hossein Ensan and earning a $6,000,000 payday.
He also has another seven-figure score on his WSOP resume, which came in a third-place finish at the 2017 WSOP $111,111 High Roller for One Drop. Sammartino finished third for $1,608,295, with Upswing Poker founder Doug Polk taking the win in that event.
Sammartino no longer plays poker full time. He owns a Ferrari rental business in Italy and presumably enjoys the fruits of a poker career that has him at $14,573,846 in career earnings as of May 2021.
He played extensively online throughout the COVID-19 era, however, and the poker world can expect to hear more from the 34-year-old Italian poker pro in future years.