Maintaining stamina during a long, multi-day poker tournament takes a little something extra; a strong will, emotional stability and good humor are key. Unfortunately, one poker player’s humorous antics at the Peoples Poker Tour Main Event in Malta last month went a little too far, resulting in his ejection from the final table.
Granted, most of us would agree that the capers of Italian poker pro Gaetano Preite were nothing more than innocent fun, but as PPT officials were very quick to point out, rules are rules. And according to those strict rules, what Preite did was inexcusable, despite the fact that he and the victim of the prank agreed it was all in good nature.
It all started on Sunday, September 6, as the end the third days’ action in the PPT Main Event was approaching. There were 10 players left in contention at the poker room of the Portomaso Casino when Preite’s good friend, Nicola Luigi Abrusci, successfully eliminated the last opponent of the day, thereby establishing the final table of nine that would return to complete the event on Monday.
Tension’s had been high up to that point as a field of 153 had taken to the tables Friday, each spilling €990 from their pockets to take a shot at the €133,000 prize pool. After finishing out what Preite called a “perfect” tournament, his spirits were high, as were his aspirations for roguish mischief.
While Abrusci wasn’t looking, Preite covertly swiped a stack of the chips his friend had just won in the previous hand away from the rest of his hoard. The Italian poker pro then went to share his antics with his railbirds, telling them of the prank. But before he could get back to the table to return the stack to his friend, Gaetano was whisked away for a photo op.
When he returned a few minutes later, he was shocked to find that tournament officials had bagged his chips, signifying his disqualification from the PPT Main Event.
In a lengthy Facebook post explaining his dismissal, Preite detailed the events that followed. “I immediately try to explain everything to the tournament director, but I had been told that although it was obvious that I did not attempt to steal the chips, my behavior was strongly against the rules.”
Although incredibly disappointed, the poker pro accepted his fate. “I know I have risked too much for a stupid joke, and I respect the decision taken by the event’s management,” he said. “But I also think they have been too strict. They know me, my personality, and how professional I am as a player, therefore I am sure we could find a ‘lighter’ sanction to punish my behavior.”
Preite’s actions and elimination from the main event were confirmed by a representative of the PPT. “Through his behavior, the player violated the rules of the competition.” As such, he would not be permitted to join in the final table on Monday.
The representative went on to explain that Preite’s stack would be subtracted from the total chips in the poker tournament, designating only 8 players to participate, instead of the intended 9.
In the end, Gaentano’s friend, Nicola Luigi Abrusci, would go on to finish runner up (€23,630) to fellow Italian, Gianluca Escobar (€41,090).