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Fisi swimming with sharks

Gambling’s Chris Lines caught up with Italian Formula One star Giancarlo Fisichella, a surprise recent addition to PartyPoker’s stable of sponsored poker players

What prompted Party Poker to approach you and what are you hoping to get out of the deal?

I think I made quite an impression on them when I played the PartyPoker Sports Stars Challenge IV earlier this year – I was really disappointed I didn’t win, I felt I had got myself into such a great position and was bossing the table. It’s like racing in F1, it’s a job and a game at the same time and I have real passion. My ambition is simply to win, have a lot of fun on the way and prove to be a great ambassador for PartyPoker.

Which poker events are you planning on playing in 2010 now that you’re a sponsored player?

I played in the PartyPoker Sport Stars Challenge IV this year and had the best time playing on TV with some of my best friends. I know I am going to be involved in some great events with Party next year. Italy is a new poker market for them and I am looking forward to leading from pole position.

What type of player are you? Are there any similarities in the way you play poker to the way you drive?

I suppose people would call me an aggressive player. That said, I normally like to study the other players before I attack – it is similar to some of the strategies in racing.

Does poker give you anything like the same adrenalin rush as driving an F1 car?

It isn’t quite the same but the spirit of victory and the challenge exists in both poker and F1. Both are definitely about being tactical but also not failing to seize opportunities. In that way driving a Ferrari F1 car and being sat at the poker table are similar.

What’s your previous biggest win playing poker?

I play for fun and so often that I don’t really remember my biggest win. I do not play high stakes at the moment but don’t rule it out in the future. I just enjoy the game!

The stereotype of Italians is that they are passionate, emotional and demonstrative – do you think these traits would help or hinder Italian poker players?

My view is that it is best to hide your emotions during play but let them go after a big win. Keep them in and then let them out!

Do you have any ‘tells’ that you hope to eliminate from your game?

I am learning all the time and keeping that to myself at the moment!

What is your favourite hand?

There are many situations in the game that I like but at this stage I am not going to reveal any of my poker secrets. I don’t want my opponents to know and have such a brilliant read on me straight away.

After a long, successful career in a sport that involves being very patient, do you feel that you’re well suited to poker?

I do think I am well suited to poker. It helps me relax – it started as a pastime but is now my passion. I enjoy playing online and offline.

There seems to be an increasing crossover by sports stars into the poker world – why do you think that trend is continuing?

I think that many of the skills from many sports are transferable and think we will continue to see top class sportsmen becoming seriously successful poker players. My aim is to be the best in F1!

Have you met some of Party’s sponsored pros players like Ian Frazer and Mike Sexton?

I haven’t met any of PartyPoker’s other sponsored players yet but look forward to doing so. I’m not sure how much advice they will pass on to me but I will accept any tips they give me and in return I can teach them how to drive a fast car! Sound like a good deal?

Passions for Formula One and poker suggest that you’re a bit of a thrill seeker – what other sports or hobbies do you enjoy?

Thrill seeker would be a correct assessment. As well as enjoying motor racing and poker I am a big fan of skiing and football.

Are any of the other F1 drivers also good poker players? If so, which ones? Are any of them really bad?

I am not going to go into too much detail but several of my mates are good players: Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg are the ones I would pick out. They all love it!

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