LAS VEGAS (12 July 2017) – The 2017 World Series of Poker is in prime form this week, with the largest Main Event since 2010 (and the third-largest Main Event in history), rolling on at the Rio in Las Vegas. Among the field's 7,221 entrants is a prominent European player not seen at the WSOP since 2013: Italy's Dario Minieri.
A decade ago, the youthful Minieri was known for his flashly scarf and aggressive, seemingly reckless play, though Minieri would remark later that he wasn't quite as aggressive as the cameras made it seem. He was already an online star when he cashed in the 2006 and 2007 Main Events; in 2007, he led the entire field at one point in the tourney's middle stages. He followed that with his first bracelet win in 2008, in Event #31: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed, earning $528,418.
Minieri has missed WSOPs from time to time, such as in 2012, but after playing a handful of events in 2013, he'd not been seen at the Rio since. That is until this week, when he arrived at the WSOP to play the Main Event.
Here, on Day 2B, the now-32-year-old Minieri doesn't seek the spotlight, but it finds him anyway. He spends most of the day on ESPN's feature table, a couple of seats to the right of Phil Hellmuth. Minieri battles through the afternoon, unable to build a deep stack, but he makes it into the evening's play. The grind is on.
It's a different look for Minieri. His famed gold-and-burgundy scarf is long gone, and he sports a beard as well; he can stroll the halls of the Rio in relative anonymity, whether by design or not.
Minieri graciously chatted with the WSOP for a few moments during his Day 2B dinner break. “Where's he been in recent years?” much of the poker world has wondered.
As happens with many players, Minieri endured a career downswing, and he readily admitted it., “I've not been in Vegas for the last couple of years because I've changed my bankroll management. I've not had the money to come here to Vegas.” Minieri's more conservative approach meant that for the short term, the WSOP just had to wait. “I didn't have the money, and I did some things, and I preferred to concentrate on grinding up, grinding up.
There was also a tax issue that he encountered in his native Italy. Part of the issue was a cause-and-effect matter, reportedly, that emerged from Minieri's sponsorship deal with a prominent online poker site. The matter was complicated further by Italy's government choosing to firewall the country's online -gambling market, meaning that Minieri was essentially blocked from playing online against the rest of Europe and the world.
It all led Minieri to relocate to Malta for a short while, though he's since returned to Italy, where he plays both online and live. “I decided to move [to Malta] because taxes were better, and then I didn't  play so much, so I went back to Italy.
Despite the move to Malta giving Minieri access to most of Europe for his online-poker play, the downturn and the tax distractions actually had him playing less than earlier. “In the last four or five years, I played less than in the first eight years of my career,” he told the WSOP.
Then there's that old tax matter, where Minieri couldn't provide specific details. “I still have one part of the case [that's] running. I won most of it, and I'm still fighting for [the final part].” Minieri stressed that to date he hasn't had to pay any of the back taxes on his winnings that Italian authorities claimed he owed, and indeed, a lot of thosee claims were dropped two years ago.
When talk turned to the WSOP, Minieri naturally was more open. “It feels good,” he said, about returning to the WSOP. “I really wanted to come, and I just came here for the Main Event,” though he joked he might return to the question after the Main Event is over.
Still, it's not a sure thing his return to the halls of the Rio will be a permanent, yearly thing. For now, he's not planning on returning to the WSOP in 2018, nor setting too much of a live-tourney schedule in general. It's all part of the new, more mature Minieri, still one of Italy's most famed players. At 32, he's experienced the highs and the lows of the game. He's here this year in the WSOP Main Event, ready for whatever the future brings.