OWhen I grew up in Venice, I played Monopoly every winter Sunday with my father and my brother. They were really good, so I usually lost and ended up crying. They were my coaches. I wore this routine as an adult. In winter, I went skiing with my friends in the Dolomites. The sun sets quite early there, so we played Monopoly in the evening. I was a strong player.
One day in 2014, when I was 30 years old and working as a lawyer for the town hall of Venice, a pop-up banner appeared on my computer, asking me: “Are you good at Monopoly? There was a chance to win a trip for two to the 2015 World Championships in Macau, China.
I clicked and first signed up for a regional tournament in Spilimbergo, 60 miles northeast of Venice. I went with my friends. One of them got drunk before the competition and spent two hours playing in silence while wearing sunglasses, but still managed to finish first. I finished third. We both qualified to play in the Italian National Championship the following year in Milan.
The tournament took place over two days. The first day I lost all my matches, but the second day I started winning. My girlfriend, Lisa, now my wife, wanted to go back to Venice because she had work the next morning, but I said, “I’m sorry, I’m winning. By 8 p.m., I had won the national championship. My prize included two flights to compete in the world championship in China that same year.
In Macao, we played in a huge hotel called the Venetian, and I played in front of a replica of the bell tower of Saint Mark. It was strange because I can see the real thing from my room. The atmosphere was amazing. There were 27 players from all over the world, as well as fans, journalists, friends and relatives of players. It was a real family event. You weren’t allowed to swear.
Monopoly is a simple game. It’s not chess. If I were to play Monopoly with you, I would probably win because I know the tricks, but in the world championship everyone knows them, so fortune and luck are important. I won that tournament and the $20,580 prize, which is the face value of all the money in the game in the bank.
I started getting calls from people all over the world interested in my victory. I also began to explore my passion for stand-up comedy, developing a routine based on my experiences competing in Monopoly.
I have been invited to play games all over the world. In Japan, they are very serious about Monopoly. When I arrived there, I felt like Cristiano Ronaldo. I’ve been taken to meals at skyscraper restaurants with private chefs and played matches against former world champions.
People ask for advice and I tell them to buy three houses on each property when you have a full set. Also, jail is your enemy at the start of the game, but your best friend towards the end. Until then, if you go to jail, stay there as long as possible because you can collect money from your properties but you don’t go around the board paying other players. There are also Monopoly “heat maps”, which show where you land the most.
Also, read the rules. Knowing them correctly will help you win. For example, you can buy and build houses anytime between other people’s turns, not just when it’s your turn. While Monopoly can take hours to complete, the game that won me my world title was completed in 47 minutes. It’s not because I’m the Maradona of Monopoly but because I know the rules. It shouldn’t be a five hour game.
Winning the championship changed his life. I started working with Comedy Central. When I travel overseas and contact comedy clubs, I’ve found that if I say I’m the Monopoly World Champion and worked with Comedy Central, someone will find me a spot. . When James May came here to film his Our Man in Italy series, I was invited to talk to him on the show.
World Championships are held every four to six years. The 2021 championship has been canceled due to Covid and there is no confirmed date for the next one. When the time comes, I hope to win again. No one has won the title twice.
As said to Daniel Dylan Wray
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Experience: I’m the Monopoly World Champion