Betfair Lifecycle Charity Poker tournament 2010
Poker for charity! The Betfair Lifecycle Charity Poker tournament made its debut on the 3rd August 2010 in St. Julians, Malta. The event – co-ordinated by Betfair, LifeCycle, and Malta Poker Events – was a massive hit with 100 players who registered for the event taking up the entire floor space at the Poker hall within the Portomaso Casino.
Players parted with €40 + €4 for the Charity Poker tournament, out of which €20 were placed in the prize-pool and €20 we allocated for the charity fund. The additional €4 in casino fees was also donated to the charity by the Portomaso Casino, resulting in a €2,400 charity fund by the end of the night.
Apart from the prize pool, the event prizes were bumped up with a variety of items offered by generous sponsors such as Malta Poker Supplies, Hilton, Activezone fitness centre, Eden Cinemas, and the Westin Dragonara. Upon exit from the tournament, players were given several raffle tickets, based on their final positioning in the tournament. The raffle took place towards the end of the night, when many of the lucky winners were watching the final table action take place.
Amongst the players who participated at the tournament, were several players from the local poker community as well as host of fresh faces, who turned up for some fun poker action to help a charitable cause. There were also several Lifecyclists at the event who took the role of bounty players adding more value and excitement to the tournament. Players who knocked out these bounty players each received sponsored Betfair merchandise like chipsets and poker-related gear by the title sponsor themselves.
The event was hosted in the larger Poker hall at the Portomaso Casino which was at full capacity for this ‘one of a kind’ Poker tournament. Players were at their seats by 19:30 hrs at which point, Mark Vella, the tournament director, announced the customary ‘shuffle up and deal’ to his team of poker dealers for the night.
Players were given 2,500 chips as their starting stack and played through the first 6 levels of blinds at 10 minute intervals. At the 7th level, blinds were increased to 15 minutes for the rest of the tournament and no antes were deducted at any of the following levels.
Sue Grech Cumbo, part of the event organisation team from Betfair was available for comment and disclosed that “It’s a fantastic turnout, we are really happy that so many poker players participated for this charitable cause. Betfair are the main sponsors of lifecycle and the event was planned in order to help Lifecycle raise money for their cause. We agreed to host this tournament since poker has become so popular and is finally accepted as a fun social activity”.
Josef Borg, Casino Manager [Portomaso Casino] had this to say, “The casino is very proud to have hosted this event, since we have been hosting the majority of quality Poker tournaments on the Maltese islands. We are very happy with the outcome, and will endeavour to organise the same event next year. We have donated all the revenue generated from the tournament entries, as our contribution to the Lifecycle challenge”.
Edward mallia, cyclist for the Lifecycle challenge, was ecstatic with the turnout and shared with us how the event came to life “The idea came about one afternoon, when we organised a renal awareness day at work, and started to discuss ways to raise money. A close friend, Emerson Farrugia, came up with the brilliant idea to host a poker tournament for the Lifecycle charity.”
“The fun part is to see poker players play with half of their money going out to charity. They seem quite happy about it! The idea of the bounty players was great as it added an additional element of excitement to the game”.
When asked about the enduring challenge ahead, Edward told us that “The challenge is 12 days of tough cycling spread over 2,000km, from Venice all the way up to Old Trafford in Manchester, passing through several different countries including Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.”
“The whole point of the challenge is to collect money. Our commitment to lifecycle is not just training for the challenge, we do visits to the renal unit, we have talks about what happens to the body during renal therapy amongst other activities – That helps you set things in perspective! This is what drives us, the thoughts of our efforts helping out these patients. We have the choice to undergo such a challenge while they are not so lucky. We go through 12 days of a tough experience while they endure their condition all their life.”
Soner Gurelli, from the lifecycle committee added that “It was a very good turnout, seamlessly organised by Betfair and Malta Poker Events. It’s nice to see young and old poker players come together to play poker and giving up a portion of the prize to donate to a charity. It realty helps to boost the cyclists morale before they depart for the actual event in 2 weeks. I would love to see this become an annual event, it seems like all the players were excited about this, giving us confidence that another event of this kind would attract a similar following”.
Back at the poker tables, the tournament started progressing at a rapid rate and within one hour, at the 6th level, players were down to 72, from the original 100 starting count. An hour after that, players were given the opportunity to refresh and refuel in the 15 minute break where they indulged in many delicious finger foods to complement the well attended event. The break also gave the players a chance at interacting with the Lifecyclists who shared their insights about their cycling challenge ahead.
The remaining 40 players were back at their seats by 21:40hrs for the 9th level of blinds at 400 / 800, and were led by Gordon Mifsud [17,000 chips] who was closely followed by Stephen Spiteri [15,000 chips]. Gordon didn’t take long to shake Steve Spiteri off his back, though, as by the tenth level of blinds he doubled up on Steve, sending him out of the tournament in 32nd place, overpowering Steve’s 10’s with a pair of Jacks.
With the players actively battling it out at their seats, we had a sit-down with Neill Simpson – Poker loyalty manager at Betfair and a main contributor to the co-ordination of the Charity Poker event – in order for him to share his thoughts about the event.
“Our overall aim is to support lifecycle on an ongoing basis, and with poker being fundamental to our business in Malta it seemed as the perfect match. Preparation and commitment from all parties concerned was tremendous, the collaboration between Betfair, Malta Poker Events, and Portomaso insured that the event was an outstanding success.
“The event itself proved not only that poker is popular and on the increase in Malta but also that people are also ready to support worthwhile charities. Including the fee donation from the casino, the overall donation to Lifecycle was above expectations, and gives us a good base for the future.”
“Our congratulations go out to all the winners of the cash prizes and the raffle prizes -Huge thanks to all participants for making it such a successful event”
Following our interview with Neill Simpson, we headed back to the tables for a peek into the action. With 2 tables left from the initial 10, we noticed a monumental come-back by Anna Colley who went from a humble 800 chips all the way up to a towering 40,000 stack following her hyper aggressive play with 6 consecutive blind All-ins against her opponents. Anna was then in the lead of the tournament which had reached average stack of 22,727 chips.
With eleven players left in the tournament, Andy Stewart exited as the first player out of the money. Andy went up against Gordon Mifsud, a dominating force throughout the entire tournament when Gordon’s triple 7’s beat Andy’s paired 8’s.
With ten players left in the game, a short break ensued and a live audience set-up was laid out for the final player’s supporters to gather round the final table. Blinds were at the 14th level at 2k / 4k by that point.
At the final table, Lewis Holland was the first player out, he was followed by Kay Tabone in 9th position. Lee Duric, a bountry player from the LifeCycle finished 8th position and Sergio Oyaga went out soon after following a run in against Anna Colley. 6th got occupied by Karsten Busch, and Reuben Borg Caruana took 5th after losing to Gordon Mifsud’s AK. By then, Frick Henning was in the lead with Anna trailing closely behind. Gordon Mifsud was not far behind either, as the third biggest stack, and Fausto Gravagna in 4th as the lowest stacked player at the final table.
By 23:30hrs, the average stack was up to 62,000 chips and 4 players were left in the game. At that stage, Gordon’s stack was bigger than Henning’s as they entered a heads up challenge. After seeing the 7AJ flop, Gordon pushed all in with his 28,000 chips holding A4. Henning called Gordon’s push whilst holding A8 but the turn came out as a Q followed by a 10 on the river, resulting in a split pot between the two players.
A few hands later Henning was back into the action in another pot against Fausto Gravagna. Henning pushed all in with his AJ against Fausto’s QQ but nothing on the flop turn or river, helped Henning’s hand develop more strength, sending him out in 4th position, giving Fausto a much needed double up at such crucial stage of the game taking the lead on the 3 way final table.
Fausto pulled off another win, this time against Anna Colley, within minutes of his win against Henning. Fausto pushed all-in pre-flop with J6h and got called by Anna with her A4. The flop showed a 6 4 and 7 giving both players a pair with Fausto in the lead with his 6’s. The 7 on the turn and a Q on the river left Fausto with the advantage, sending Anna out in 3rd place.
The challenge was then between Gordon Mifsud, a 3 to 1 underdog, and Fausto Gravagna. Gordon quickly picked up the pace with a stoic performance which helped increase his stack through a series of uncalled bets from his opponent. This catapulted Gordon in the lead as his opponent was not ‘catching good enough cards to place his position at stake’ and after several hands, Fausto took action and placed his severely diminished stack on a suited 23. Gordon insta-called quicker than a speeding bullet, showing off a pair of candy canes  and remained in the lead all the way to the river.
Gordon Mifsud took down the first prize at the Betfair Lifecycle Charity tournament followed by Fausto Gravagna in second place. The payouts went out as follows:
1st Gordon Mifsud – €380
2nd Fausto Gravagna – €340
3rd Anna Colley – €300
4th Fricke Henning – €260
5th Reuben Borg Caruana – €220
6th Karsten Busch – €180
7th Sergio Oyaga – €140
8th Lee Duric – €100
9th Kay Tabone – €60
10th Lewis Holland – €20
As part of the raffle, 28 players received prizes ranging from cinema tickets, to poker chip sets and a scanner/copier. Players who have not collected their prizes yet may do so by contacting the Portomaso Casino.
For photos of the event, visit www.maltapokerevents.com
For more information about the Lifecycle challenge, you may visitwww.lifecyclechallenge.com