Dario Barone as he raises the Battle of Malta 2023 Main Event trophy.


Interview with Dario Barone, winner of the Battle Of Malta 2023

The team of Top1% could only celebrate the victory of Dario Barone, the school’s Coach, at the Battle Of Malta 2023 Main Event.

Against a field of nearly 2,000 participants, including some of the biggest names on the Italian and European scene, Dario managed to place his signature on first place, above an all-Italian podium. It is also worth noting the presence of another of our team, Giulio Di Salvo, who stopped the race in fifth position for an excellent €41,100.

Cifalino91” (nickname of Dario Barone), however, at the end of the heads up against Junyu “X-Gambit83” Liu won the trophy and the €156,500 first coin. We contacted him to let him tell us about the experience and emotions of this golden trip especially for Team Top1%.

Day 1

“How did the tournament go?

“On the first day I already wanted to go home. I did two bullets on Day 1A, two bullets on Day 1B, one bullet on Day 1C, and I wrote on the guys’ chat ‘Enough, I can’t take it anymore, I want to go home.’ And then I switched to the Day 1E turbo bullet.

The last one at least went pretty smoothly, I won a couple of important spots at the end of the day. The main one was a BTN-BB spot, where I open with A♣4♣ and he defends BB.
The flop is A-3-5 rainbow, I c-bet he raises x3 and I call.
On the turn comes down a Q♣ that opens the draw. He shoves, I call.
He turns me 5-3, and on the river a 2♣ falls. Thanks to that pot I went through with about 70bb to Day 2.”

Dario Barone doubtful at the table

Backlash: a Day 2 from second in the count

“Day 2 began at the table with “Il-Giuglia” and “Deneb” (Luigi D’Alterio and Alessandro Pichierri), and the rest of the table was reasonably good. On the third hand there was this spot where I was supposed to get out.

At blinds 6,000 there is an open 12,000, I call from CO with 8-8. The BTN who was chipleader of the table squeezes 27k (size a bit like this) and we both call.
Flop 6-4-3 rainbow, BTN c-bet to 37k and only I call.
Turn 9, check to check.
River 8 and on pot of about 140k I bet 160k, getting the snap call. I thought I was good, I turned even proudly my 8-8 and he turns me 9-9.

There I stay with 25bb and also a bit tilted, then I slowly recovered with quiet spots and recovered.

At the end of Day 2 I found myself at the table with Gytis Lazauninkas, the one who won the High Roller against Mirabella. Strong Lithuanian, a dragon. He always opened, always 3-bet. Then I stealled a pot from him with a 5-bet shove, and I ended Day 2 second in the count with 2.8 million.”

Competitive chipleader trance on Day 3

“On Day 3, when we were down to three tables, I started to aggravate very strongly. I was telling the guys at Top1% that there were a couple of hours where I was playing, focusing on stack, ICM, etc., and I was winning almost every spot.

I was in a pure competitive trance, detached from everything. At 13-14 left there was a break, I count the stack and see about 5 million. Back from break, I open the BOM blog and I see my picture, which says ‘Chipleader’ at 9 million. I was so in the game that I didn’t realize I was cracking the table.”

Dario Barone with chips from the Final Table.

The Final Table

“At the FT the next day I had very few spots until 5 left and I went down, then I started to see some favorable spots. An open by Dominici, 3-bet by X-Gambit83 from BTN who was hooking hard and I 4-bet K-Qo winning the uncontested pot of over 2 million. Then Liu scaled back a little bit and I took the reins, I started to aggravate.

A key spot was when Bolivar was left with 1/2 bb in all in automatic, I open 800k with 9-9, Dominici calls and X-Gambit 3bets 2.5 million from SB, I call.
7-5-2, he c-bets 2 million I call.
6 on the turn, he checks I check and he folds. In this hand I took 10 million and became chipleader again.”

The Heads-Up

“At the Heads-Up I started with 32M against his 18M and it was a downhill HU. I won almost every spot, he said he wasn’t hittin’ a card. Then they switched blinds and there was the final hand, in which I open J-J he shoves 25bb with 6-6 and I go. Probably if he had been able to catch up he could have put me in trouble, but fortunately everything went smoothly.

The emotions of a victory with teammates

“Already at the turn I was crying, almost not breathing. Then when the river came down the Top1% guys slaughtered me, picked me up–I didn ‘t get it. Then my best man also showed up on video call with my wife, and I re-cried together with her.”

Dario Barone's celebration after the victory

Rated 10 with high praise!

Fantastic experience and fantastic result, but you know that in poker results and skill are not so related in the short term. So we asked Dario Barone if he was satisfied with his game.

“I watched the whole final table again, even with cards seen, and I feel I didn’ t miss a spot. I think I expressed good play in all phases, and I had good luck. But also from a strategic point of view, for example, not clashing with strong players.

A funny anecdote: the other week I did a 4th place always here in Malta, and seeing the TV table I said to Angelo, ‘It’s a preparation for when the big one comes.’ It came right after that.”

The future of Dario Barone

A six-figure payout is always important to a poker player. Will anything change in Dario’s future?

“I think nothing changes. Now I’m taking a couple of days to unplug and regroup. I was considering starting to stream or push myself professionally, with the various coaching requests that are coming to me, always with Top1%.

But for the moment I have my group of coaches who are great, I follow them and I will continue to follow them and I will never think of quitting them, and my game side path I think I will be the same, I will not change schedule, ABI, anything.

I planned two more trips, the Stanleybet and the PokerStars Festival. I will do these two then stop and evaluate.”

No Las Vegas, but maybe in 2024…

“I’m not going to Vegas because in my opinion it’s not mature as a thing yet. If you look at the results on Hendon Mob, which are also all the tournaments I played, I was pretty much always alone.

This time we were all there, and the emotional boost, having your coach behind you to talk to about the spots, were uniquely important.

Going to Vegas alone would not be a good trip just in terms of quality. We had already talked about it; we will probably plan it for next year quietly. That’s also why I was saying that this victory doesn’t change anything.

On the contrary, it allows me not to rush things, to put myself in a more comfortable condition and to have the peace of mind that I can plane everything well and not overdo it to make too big steps.

So yes, next year I will continue my step-by-step path without rushing anything. I will probably devote more time to live given the ease of finding such big first coins that you can’t find online, or rather: you have to play with dragons.

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