Thursday, 23rd May 2024 14:41
Home / Poker / How Nicolas Zammataro is using online qualifiers to nurse his poker dream back to health

Nicolas Zammataro qualified for EPT Prague for just €50 after years away from the game.


Whether it’s your family, your friends, or your career, there are always things in life more important than poker. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to set the game aside.

For Nicolas Zammataro, a male nurse from Corsica, France, it was especially difficult. “Poker is my biggest passion,” he tells me on break from the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague Main Event. “But I had to stop playing live poker because my job is so important to me.”

Zammataro ran a body cryotherapy centre for years, helping people recover and strengthen through brief exposure to ultralow temperatures. To do so successfully meant letting his poker dream go cold.

But after closing the centre last year, he now has more time to play and his first port of call was online qualifiers on PokerStars. He entered a €50 satellite for EPT Prague and booked a seat in a €250 qualifier the next day. He then won that too, winning his seat plus expenses.

Now he’s here at the Hilton hoping for a deep run and it’s safe to say his poker fire is burning once again. “I’m really enjoying my time here,” he says. “Poker is just the best hobby.”

A NATURAL EVOLUTION

Nicolas Zammataro’s infatuation with Texas hold’em began in 2006 when his friend advised him to download PokerStars. It was the latest in a long list of card games that have fascinated him since he was young. 

“My grandmother taught me to play scopa, then rummy, then belote, then closed poker,” he says. His natural skill at card games served him well when he ran deep in his very first online tournament, turning $22 into $650. “It was a natural evolution for me to play hold’em and I’ve loved playing since.”

With 17 years of experience, Zammataro considers himself to be an “advanced amateur”. He defines that as someone who has played a lot of poker over the years, but as he was always busy with work, he was unable to put in the volume.

“I have a few cashes on my Hendon Mob but for several years I didn’t play live poker,” he says. “But I always enjoy it and I love big fields.”

Zammataro’s kids think “this is all very cool.”

Despite the long days and intense concentration required, he finds live tournaments stimulating. “I like being at the table, watching what’s going on, interacting with the players, confronting them,” he says. “I love competition and I see tournaments as adventures.”

Zammataro hopes to bring his son and daughter to events in the future, but for now, they’re both busy with their studies. “They couldn’t come this time as she’s at university and he is in high school,” he says. “But they both think this is all very cool.”

NICE AND HEALTHY

He might not have time to solve hands and learn GTO poker like the pros, but Nicolas Zammataro is always keen to learn and improve and loves to discuss strategy with friends. “I like to play in an exploitative way and not necessarily in the same way depending on the type of opponent I’m facing,” he says.

And how is his Main Event going so far?

“For now, my stack is very healthy,” he says. “I’m playing well, I feel good. I’m selecting my hands and ranges and observing the other players more and more.”

Family, friends and his career still come first. But for the next few hours at least, as Day 1B plays to its conclusion, there’s nothing more important to Nicolas Zammataro than poker.

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