Italian poet losing first stake (4)
I believe the answer is:
'stake' is the definition.
(stake in poker)
'italian poet losing first' is the wordplay.
'italian poet' becomes 'dante' (Dante Alighieri).
'losing first' means to remove the first letter.
'dante' with its first letter removed is 'ANTE'.
(Other definitions for ante that I've seen before include "Stake put up before the deal" , "Each player's initial contribution to the pot" , "advance payment" , "Stake put up by a poker-player before receiving cards" , "Preceding birth" .)