John Tabatabai at the WPTJohn Tabatabai is one of those guys. One of those guys who when you walk into a poker room and see him upright in his chair with a half-smile across his lips, you know that he’s either just stopped talking or is about to start.

And you know that if he’s still in the tournament then it means he has a big stack of chips and is the table captain, in and out of every pot and wiggling the players like marionettes.

That’s why, when I walked into the tournament area at the Casino de Venezia for Day Four of the WPT I was excited.

But it’s also why when I saw John Tabatabai head bent and zeroed into focus, quiet as a mouse and patiently managing one half-stack, I had to rub my eyes in disbelief. Because John Tabatabai doesn’t do a short stack. He doesn’t do quiet. And most of all, he doesn’t do the tight guy.

Or so I thought. The man who burst upon the poker scene with a runner up finish to Annette Obrestad in the inaugural WSOP Europe and spent several years looking to be the most exciting young gun in British poker has come a long way. He can still wield chips. He can still talk them off the table. But he’s also developed the other gear. And the wide open confines of the ram and jam field at the WPT Venice was the perfect place to down shift for a while.

Show 26 (February 17) with John Tabatabai is online now! Click the play button to listen:

[podcast]http://www.thepokershowlive.com/media/mp3/216.mp3[/podcast]

I can’t say the same for Dragan Galic. Dragan is one of my favourite people in tournament poker, because he doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve. Every card and every hand occupies his entire being. And with the game Dragan has, you wonder how long his heart can stand it.

It’s no small talent to have occupied the chip lead in just about every major event he’s played. Dragan’s run to the seventh day of the WSOP main event last year in Las Vegas was awe inspiring. The man packs a lot of talent in his frame. But he only plays poker the same way he drives his quarter of a million dollar car. Too fast for slowing down.

The WPT Venice was pure class. You can’t help but be energized by the location, the sixteenth century palace perched on the banks of the Grand Canal. The best way to arrive is the best way to do everything in Venice. By boat. Either water bus or water taxi. Walking in that town is for the riffraff and suckers, people who want to find themselves in a hundred blind alleys.

Everything about Venice makes you think of a grand past except the poker, because right now the Italian poker scene is number one in the world for freshness, vivacity, and the outright explosion of loose money. This year five hundred players, next year one thousand, easy. The number one man on the Italian scene Max Pescatori can’t get the smile off his face in anticipation. And I can’t say I blame him.

Show 27 (February 17) with Dragan Galic and Max Pescatori is online now! Click the play button to listen:

[podcast]http://www.thepokershowlive.com/media/mp3/215.mp3[/podcast]
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