Malta Poker Open – Stage 1 Satellite 14th September 2010
42 players registered for the 2nd Stage 1 satellite for the month of September 2010. Poker players who registered for this event were competing for a seat at the Malta Poker Open 2010 super satellite – Powered by XLBet.com
The tournament kicked off at 8:05pm and players were distributed on four tables at the Portomaso Casino, St. Julians. The multi-table tournament was hosted both in the Non Smoking and Smoking areas of the Casino, based on the players preferences.
Players were each given 5,000 chips for their €10 + €1 buy-in which they tried to increase by a series of well laid bets, calls, and folds for the duration of the first 5 levels. Several players went ahead and made re-buys right at the start of the tournament just for that extra edge when facing off their opponents, giving them more assets with which to intimidate their adversaries at the felt.
By the end of the 5th blind level right and before the break, players had taken up the prize-pool to €1,200 which meant that there would be 10 prizes given out at the end of the night. Prizes comprised of €110 + 10 tickets for the Malta Poker Open Super satellites – Powered by XLBet.com
The game resumed at the 6th level of blinds at 200/400 and there was an average stack of 15,526 chips at the table with 590,000 chips in play. By then two players had exited from the tourney and were replaced by another two players from the tournament waiting list which took the number of remaining participants back to 40 players.
With the players back at their tables, we met up with Cyril Fievet – a French journalist specialised in Poker Journalism for the past three years – who was also at the casino while the tournament was taking place. Cyril was editor in chief for Cardplayer® France and has also been the editor of various information websites dealing with the subject of Poker. Cyril has been living in Malta for the last three years and is one of the more familiar faces at the local casino card-rooms.
Cyril told us that he had just come back from a holiday in Vegas where he spent the last 11 weeks or so. We obviously took the opportunity to find our more about his Poker experiences at the Gambling capital of the world – Fabulous Las Vegas!
“I was in Vegas for almost three months and played in several tournaments ranging from $100 – $1000 with the majority being in the $200 – $300 region. I experienced some great competition there. I have to say that in general most of the players there play extremely tight, especially when compared to poker players here in Malta.
I adapted my strategy to their field, taking advantage of their consistent behaviour at the table by bluffing more often, and being especially wary when players went All-in. In most of the cases, when players push there, they’ve got the nuts.”
During my visit it was peak season for foreigners and this is where I found some relatively unpredictable players. They were definitely harder to play against than the Americans. These players were from European origins with a nice mix of Scandinavians, Germans, and British players.
Overall, the tournaments in Vegas are not too difficult and are actually rather pleasant to play in. The structure is always very good, even at low buy-ins. At higher entry-fees such as the $1,000 tournaments, you are usually presented with a beautiful deep structure.
As for cash/ring games I found them slightly harder to play when compared to tournaments or ring games in Malta. The players are extremely tight so it’s difficult to extract value. On most of the tables half of the players are usually grinders and they practically live there from poker-grinding on a daily basis. There isn’t much value at these tables. Surprisingly, this characteristic is also true at $1/$2 where players are also very tight, making is less valuable to play against them.
One of the things that keep the ring games interesting however is the amount of incentives given to players. Several casinos use a form of rake-back system which gives you money back according to the time spent at the table.
Basically, if you play everyday, you will either get money back, or free accommodation on the weekdays, or free meals at the casino restaurants. I know people there who play lots of cash games and almost don’t pay for their hotel any more. In some cases, the poker rakeback pays for 80% of player’s holiday trip.
Another interesting incentive is the quantity of bonuses available for high hands! If a player hits a straight flush or a royal flush, or even a quad, he will be given extra money for his hand. When I was at the tables I hit 2 straight flushes and one quad, and apart from the juicy pot I won, this also gave me an extra $1,500 in cash, just because I hit a good hand!
There are also bad beat jack jackpots. The way this works is that if you lose to with a quad to a Royal flush for example, you will get a huge amount of money, and so will all the other players at your table.
For instance at the Casesar’s Palace Casino, the bad beat jackpot is set to $10,000, whatever the limit you’re playing. The beaten player gets $5,000 and the remaining $5,000 is split amongst the other players at the table, even if they were not involved in the hand!
After our discussion about poker in Vegas we proceeded to ask Cyril about his thoughts about the Malta Poker Open 2010 – Powered by Xlbet.com
“I think you guys are doing a great job for Malta as a whole. Promoting Malta as a poker destination is surely showing its fruits with all the international tournaments which have started to take place here in the last 2 years.
I had been thinking about this for almost three years now, since I first set foot on Maltese soil. I couldn’t understand how Malta, with all it’s benefits, hadn’t yet capitalised on the live Poker boom which has swept across Europe in the past decade –Finally it’s materialising! Malta boasts quality casinos capable of very large tournaments, a very good tourism infrastructure and there are lots of nightlife activities for those who enjoy that. The country is rich in culture, food is exquisite, and the people are also very friendly. The fact that English is practically the official language here only helps make things easier for foreigners like myself.
It’s great to see that there are more than just small entry tournaments and cash games. With tournaments such as the Malta Poker Open which offers an interesting prize-pool with live and online qualifying options, players are in for a completely different experience. High buy-ins help to attract players from abroad and also help to attract professional poker players. It’s a good event for Malta, it’s a sign that things are headed in the right direction and something that will definitely benefit the local poker scene.
I would surely participate in one or two satellites, hopefully one will be enough to win my main event seat, but in any case – satellite or not – I’m almost certain that I’ll be seated at the tables during the main event!”
After closing up our enjoyable discussion with Cyril we headed back to the tables for an update on the tournament progress. Several levels had being played and Gordon Mifsud, Tony Ciantar and Renzo Bonnici were three of the clear leaders at the tables holding considerable sized stacks when compared to their opponents.
By 23:38, 18 players were still left in the game and an hour after that, the count was down to 14. A few hands later, players were in the bubble zone with just 11 players left in the tournament, which split 6 on one table and 5 on the other. Gordon Mifsud was now in the lead with over 150,000 chips, followed by Renzo Bonnici with 70,000 and Daniel Mountford with 60,000 chips.
With such few players at the table, the blinds started taking their toll on the lower stacked players and eventually Tanya Apap, had no option but to push and hope for the best. The average stack was about 53,000 chips which was about six times the amount of Tanya’s stack at the time [8,000 chips]. Tanya’s hand was called by an opponent whose hand maintained its strength throughout the flop, turn and river, beating her full house of Jacks with a full house of Kings. He covered Apap with his stack, at which point the tourney came to finish.
Winners for the night were:
Josephine Mc Kay
The winners of the ‘Stage 1’ satellite were each given a ‘Super satellite’ seat for the Malta Poker Open 2010 – Powered by Xlbet.com. The value of the prizes was of ten €110 + €10 tickets totaling a prize-pool of €1,200. The winners will now be proceeding to the next ‘Super Satellite’ tournament for the Malta Poker Open which is taking place on the 3rdOctober 2010 at the Portomaso Casino, Malta.
Online qualifiers, which started less than two weeks ago have also brought in another 5 players so far, who will be flying to Malta to participate at the Malta Poker Opentournament.