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Meet The Festival Series Media – Gioconews & Cesare Antonini

Meet The Festival Series Media – Gioconews & Cesare Antonini

Just over a week until The Festival Malta begins, which all of our team members have been eagerly anticipating. Not only because we can work in a warm environment and not be stuck within four office walls, but also because we can finally meet new and old friends face to face.

Cesare Antonini is one of these old friends who has introduced us to the Italian poker landscape for a long time. He is someone who can be described as a good symphony orchestra. When needed, he conducts the whole operation, when needed, he plays a duet (read: comment on our live games in Italian), and when needed, he is in the string section (read: typing blog posts until his fingers hurt). We caught Cesare in a rush and stopped him for a moment to get to know him better.

The Festival Media Team: Buon Giorno Cesare! Please introduce yourself a little to our readers. What is your background and how did you end up in the poker industry?

Cesare: I am 45 years old, I reside in the charming medieval town of Narni located in Umbria, Italy. While I have a permanent residence, I often travel around the globe to participate in gaming and poker tournaments. Since around 2000, I have been actively writing and working as a journalist. Initially, I began writing for fun with my friends and ended up being featured in the local newspapers. At the same time, I pursued my education in Economics, and upon graduation, I had the choice to either continue my professional work or devote myself to writing. I choose writing and by chance that I stumbled upon a newspaper that focused on gambling.

As the popularity of poker started to soar in Italy, I convinced my editor-in-chief to let me write about this fantastic mental sport. My intuition proved to be right, and I became one of the first poker journalists in Italy. This decision changed my life forever and I had never regretted that.

The Festival Media Team: So, you had a choice between pursuing economics and poker. We can assume that you have a strong mathematical background, which is a characteristic of a good poker player. So how much do you play poker nowadays, or how much have you played in the past? Have you won any significant tournaments?

Cesare: I don't have the time to play poker as I'm busy covering events and writing about them. For instance, during The Festival, I consider it unprofessional for a journalist to sit at the table. I'm often exhausted, and I prefer to rest or have a drink. Nevertheless, I am passionate about playing poker. It's been a long-standing dream of mine to experience a season as a professional poker player. During the lockdown, I played a lot of online cash games in the evenings, but now I only have time for quick Sit and Go hyper-turbo games, such as Spin and Go. Whenever I'm in Las Vegas, I love playing cash games, even in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when the stakes are low (1-2, 2-5). So far, I have two official results, including two final tables in Prague and San Marino, but I'm hoping to achieve another significant win soon!

August 2008San Marino Poker Tour€170 No Limit Hold´em9th€385
August 2008Prague Poker Tour€220 No Limit Hold´em6th€250

The Festival Media Team: Speaking of achievements, Gioconews is probably one of the biggest among them. Knowing a little about Italian poker, this is probably the most popular news channel where you can read about Italian poker. How are you involved?

Cesare: Si-si. Gioconews is my life, and it´s completely monopolized by me, hahahaa. I am happy where Giogonews has reached today because, in addition to poker, you can also read about other topics related to the casino. Football, horse racing, and even gambling politics.

The Festival Media Team: We know that to be a good writer, you have to read a lot yourself and have a wide horizon. Do you ever plan to write about something other than poker and gambling? Maybe some cooking book?

Although I have considered writing a book, it wouldn't be about pizza. I envision a story that is similar to Chuck Palahniuk's style, but after reading Murakami Haruki's works, I feel that he is more than enough for this world as a writer, and I return to following the thrilling game of poker.

Despite my passion for writing, I also hold a prominent role in my city's historical commemoration, the Corsa all'Anello, where I'm considered a kind of medieval "King."

The Festival Media Team: Returning to the poker lanes, tell us about Italian poker - how things are going in overall? What are the biggest "Italian" events taking place in Italy? How many players, voices, etc? To who you have been co-operating? Who are the cutest celebrities/characters in this family?

Cesare Antonini & Chris Moneymaker

Cesare: It would take a whole book to answer this question properly! I work closely with all the major poker tournaments and I must say that Italian organizers, both in casinos and clubs, are generally excellent. However, I'd rather not single anyone out so as not to leave anyone out. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major upheaval in the industry, and although we thought things were getting back to normal a few months later, it's starting only now in 2023, I see that tournaments, participants, and new players are all on the rise. Sadly, only Casino di Sanremo hosts poker festivals, so most Italian players have to travel to Malta, San Marino, Slovenia, Slovakia, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and other locations around the world to participate in major events. It's shocking that three casinos don't offer any tournaments, and I find it hard to understand.

Unfortunately, the image of a poker player as a barbarian still persists in some quarters, even though times have changed drastically over the past two decades, while Italian gaming halls have remained stuck in the past. On the bright side, many clubs in Italy are the real driving force behind the poker industry. Although there are laws that regulate the sector, they have never been fully implemented. We continue to play as we always have, and until the government takes some concrete action, we'll continue to do so. However, I can't help but dream of a regulatory framework like the one they have for poker clubs in Paris.

The Festival Media Team: The Festival Malta -What are your expectations about it? What do you think about our side events like Franke Flip Flops ?

Cesare: Collaborating with The Festival brings me joy as I believe that two essential elements should be present in a poker tournament: enjoyment and variety of games. Most events have long, tiring formats that offer only No Limit Hold'em, keeping players at the tables for 14-15 hours. On the contrary, The Festival provides players with games that have sleek and light structures, making them more enjoyable. The inclusion of Flip Flops, which I first encountered in Las Vegas when players were competing for a main event ticket for $1,000 each, is a great idea that Franke relaunched and reinvented. Roulette and blackjack tournaments including with Cash Game Challenge are also significant as they stimulate competitiveness and fun. The diverse range of mixed games is also crucial. Furthermore, the activities outside the casinos complement the beautiful program. I had a fantastic experience in Tallinn and Bratislava, and I am looking forward to the Malta event with great anticipation.

Cesare Antonini

The Festival Media Team: We all know that the Italian kitchen has probably given the world the most variety of food. Pastas, pizzas, fish, and meat dishes - please rank the top 3 dishes for yourself.

Cesare: Huhh, hard question. I like almost everything and in Italy we really have an infinite menu. The ranking is complex but let's say that I would put the lasagna with ragu' in the first place, then the red prawn tartare from Mazara del Vallo, and also a good rare Fiorentina steak! But then there's pizza, carbonara, tartare, and oysters. Come on, let's go to dinner in Malta!

The Festival Team accepts this offer and would prefer a delicious Fiorentina steak first. If your stomach was empty after all this interview, you can fill it with poker from May 15-21 as part of The Festival Malta games at the Portomaso casino. And If you want to look at your life in the same way, as Cesare's where your dreams have mainly gone true, then you still have time to join our ride in Malta. "Se puoi sognarlo, puoi farlo" as Walt Disney would say about dreaming.