Third Time's the Charm as Ermanno Di Nicola Catches a Miracle to Win the 550 Colossus

Third Time's the Charm as Ermanno Di Nicola Catches a Miracle to Win the 550 Colossus

Poker can be a fickle game. Life-altering fortunes can change with the turn of a card. One hand can be the difference between being a champion and an afterthought, just one of thousands who busted short of the ultimate goal. Ermanno Di Nicola was on the good side of that variance today in Event #5: 550 No-Limit Holdem Colossus.

Di Nicola was all in early on the events final day with ace-jack against Elia Salernos pocket threes. A three on the flop gave Salerno a seemingly firm grip on the hand, with Di Nicola already getting up to leave and resigned to collecting his 14th-place payout.

The deck and lady luck had other plans. The turn brought a ten, and Di Nicola stopped in his tracks, realizing he now had some hope with a straight draw. The river was a king, the same king he had tattooed on his wrist, that gave him the straight and earned him a double up.

Di Nicola had a new life, and he made the most of it, ending up as the champion and newest World Series of Poker Europe bracelet winner at Kings Resort in Rozvadov after prevailing over the massive field of 3,436 players to earn 200,000.

I was already feeling like player out because I didnt have many chances, especially after the three hit on the flop, Di Nicola said following his victory heads-up against Alain Saka, his friend Alessandro serving as translator. But you need luck in poker, and that was a 50-50 spot, and I got it on the end.

Di Nicola had come close to WSOPE glory before. Two years ago, he finished in third place in the 5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event. He added an eighth-place showing in the 2,000 PLO that year, his only two WSOP cashes before this event. Di Nicola is primarily a PLO player and was looking to enter the 5K event that began last night. But he had other work to do, and it ended with a gold bracelet around his wrist.

Finally, I got the full job done. Hopefully, this is going to be the first of a long series of successes. Not just final tables, but winning tournaments, he said.

The 200,000 top prize is Di Nicolas largest career score. He had previously finished third in a high roller in Prague in March 2022 for 166,000. His victory today pushes his live earnings near $600,000.

Final Table results

PlacePlayerCountryPrize
1Ermanno Di NicolaItaly200,000
2Alain SakaPoland115,000
3Angelo MarroneItaly87,000
4Alessandro PredaroliItaly66,000
5Tobias PetersNetherlands50,500
6Julien LoireFrance38,800
7Xhavit BerishaKosovo30,000
8Juuso LuokkanenFinland23,350

Day 3 Action

Day 3 began with 16 players remaining on the final two tables. Dennis Magro began the day as chip leader but took an early hit when he and Salerno both made trip aces, but Salerno had a king-kicker to double up. Angelo Marrone, who entered the day at the bottom of the leaderboard with just four big blinds, also doubled up off Di Nicola with ace-king versus ace-queen, turning a king after Di Nicola flopped a queen.

Andrej Desset was first to bust, running ace-nine into Vadzim Lipaukas ace-jack. Di Nicola, who began the day in third place with more than 8,000,000, fell below 2,000,000 but found a double up through Salerno with ace-jack against ace-ten. Then came his miracle, and Salerno busted shortly afterwards when he missed straight and flush draws on the river against Alessandro Predaroli.

Lipauka (15th) was also sent to the rail early, while Samuel Stranak and Stefan Fabian were eliminated on the same hand when Xhavit Berisha woke up with kings to beat Fabians jacks and Stranaks queen-five after the 2021 bracelet winner was forced all in from the big blind. Stranak took 13th, while Fabian finished in 12th as the larger stack.

Cristian David ran into the aces of Julien Loire to finish in 11th, while Gianluca Gallo was left short after dropping a big pot to Saka, calling for 3,000,000 on the river with top pair against Sakas nut flush. A few hands later, Gallo shoved with ace-six but ran into Magros queens.

Saka held a commanding chip lead at the start of the nine-handed final table with 21,275,000. Berisha was in second with 14,200,000, while Di Nicola followed in third place with 9,900,000. With the average stack worth just 23 big blinds, the players settled into a battle of attrition to see who could climb up the money ladder.

Di Nicola won an early pot off Saka when he flopped a set of sevens. Saka turned trip nines and called a bet of 3,000,000 on the river. Magro kicked off the final table with two failed bluff attempts that dropped him to 3,500,000. He then called off his stack with fives against Tobias Peters king-queen. Peters flopped a straight draw, then turned a king to bust the start-of-day chip leader in ninth place.

Marrone doubled up off Saka, then snapped off Juuso Luokkanens 4,200,000 shove with ace-king and flopped top pair to bust the Finnish national in eighth place and move up to 12,000,000. Berisha then shoved with deuces into the aces of Loire, riding the massive chip lead he had at the end of Day 1 to a seventh-place finish.

Marrone moved close to the top of the leaderboard when he picked off a big bluff from Di Nicola. Predaroli then doubled off Saka before tangling in a big pot against Loire. The French pro three-bet to 5,000,000, Predaroli jammed for 12,400,000, and Loire called with a nearly identical stack holding two eights. Predaroli had ace-queen suited, and while Loire turned a set, Predaroli rivered a flush to bust Loire in sixth.

Peters, the most accomplished player in the field with nearly $3,000,000 in live earnings, then jammed for 8,900,000 in the small blind. Saka picked him off with ace-queen against ace-five as Peters added 50,500 to his career winnings for his fifth-place finish.

Predaroli was next to fall, shoving for 12,000,000 with ace-nine. Di Nicola called with ace-queen in the big blind and held on with his queen-kicker to bust his fellow Italian in fourth and take the chip lead into three-handed play.

Marrone attempted a four-bet shove for 28,000,000 with ace-jack, but Di Nicola woke up with kings to end Marrones chip-and-a-chair story in the making in third place. Di Nicola led Saka 65,000,000 to 24,500,000 at the start of heads-up, but it wouldnt be an easy road to the bracelet.

First, Saka doubled up with ace-jack against king-deuce, hitting trip jacks. Saka was then all in again for 16,000,000 with king-four and up against Di Nicolas queen-ten. A queen on the flop and a safe turn left Di Nicola a card away from the title, but Saka spiked a king on the river to stay alive yet again.

Di Nicola then limped in from the button, and Saka raised to 4,000,000 in the big blind. Di Nicola called to face an eight-five-high, all-diamond flop. Saka jammed for 17,000,000, and Di Nicola called with king-five, holding a pair of fives and the king-high flush draw. Saka had just ace-high and a smaller diamond and watched as the board didnt provide him any help. The Poland native fell short of the bracelet, but he did collect 115,000 for his runner-up finish after coming into the tournament with just over $3,000 in total earnings.

Di Nicola got to celebrate with his partner on the rail and insisted he was looking forward to sharing some of his newfound wealth with her. Some nice gifts, of course, he said about how he plans to spend the money. His cheque is a lot bigger than it might have otherwise been if not for one card. But thats the nature of this game, and Di Nicola has a new piece of gold jewellery to prove it.

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