October 2009 – Portomaso Casino – Halloween Special

Halloween €220 Tournament 1.11.09
Venue: Portomaso Casino
Tournament Style: €220 Freeze-out
Registered Players: 64
Satellite entries: 17 players
Direct Buy-in: 47 players
Tourney Duration: 9 Hours
64 poker players registered for the Halloween €220 Freeze-out tourney at the Portomaso Casino hosted by Malta Poker Events.  The prize-pool reached just under €13,000 giving out cash prizes to the 9 poker players who made it into the money this month.  The first prize of €4000 went out to Beatriz Bernal Leonardo [Spain], for placing first.
The first hand of the night was dealt at 16:45, with blinds increasing every 30 minutes, as players quickly started making plays for each others chip stacks which amounted to 7000 at the beginning of the tourney.
By the first break, the player count was down to 48 players which took the average stack to about 9300 and by 21:45, 19 players were left.  Around 6 hours into the game, the tourney was down to the final table and included players Leo Said, David Meli, Ivan Farrugia, John Olsen, Spartaco Vivaldi, Beatriz Bernal Leonardo, Chris Sammut, Hiryonen Mikko Ilan and Jacob Nilsson.
The highlights at the final table started with one of the most animated player at the table, Leo Said who was in the Chip lead, and followed closely by David Meli.   Leo placed a 40K bet which got called by the lowest stack at the table, as a last struggle to get back into the game. Hiryonen Mikko Ilan didn’t have enough chips to cover Leo’s bet and pushed all in while holding JQ. The flop immediately favoured Leo’s AQ as he paired both his hole cards when the QAT32 were uncovered from the deck sending Hiryonen out in 6th Position with a pair of Queens.
The chip distribution at the table with 5 players left was now as follows:
1. Leo Said – 142K
2. David Meli – 132K
3. Christopher Sammut – 69K
4. Spartaco Vivaldi  – 65K
5. Beatriz Bernal Leonardo – 49K
With the blinds now at 3k/6k Spartaco Vivaldi was now on the button and pushed all-in holding JQ.  Spartaco, who had a slighter bigger chip stack after collecting some blinds in the previous hands got called by Chris Sammut who was on the big blind and holding AQ.  Here, the dealer uncovered 69Q22 which gave both players a pair of Queens, yet Chris Sammut held the lead with his stronger kicker [Ace]. Chris doubled up with this call taking his stack up to over 130K placing him inches away from Leo Said, the chip leader at the time.  Spartaco’s stack took a decisive blow with this hand as he was left with just 4.5K which he lost in the following hand against Beatriz Bernal Leonardo who sent him out in 5th place with €950.
At 12:45am the table featured four poker players of which three Maltese and one Spanish player.  With J8 in his hands, Leo Said called the big blind in the pot against David Meli.  Leo raised upon pairing his Jack on the flop and David Meli who held A6 retaliated with a call upon pairing his Ace.  The turn showed an 8 which now gave Leo 2 pairs, Hooks and Snowmen, and the confidence to bet another 20K on his hand.  After some thought, David called Leo’s bet, and the dealer uncovered yet another Jack, giving Leo a full house with Jacks full of eights.  At this point Leo slowly poured all of his chip stack, pushing all in into the pot – David Meli called this push, only to see Leo’s monster which overpowered David’s pair of Aces sending him out in 4th position with €1250.
With just three players left at the table, and a great distance between her and the remaining two other players, Beatriz now started to implement a more aggressive style pushing all in against Leo Said and Christopher Sammut on several occasions.  She managed to increase her chip stack by winning the blinds several times as none of the other players were willing to take unnecessary risks at this crucial stage of the game.
At around 1:15am, Chris Sammut offered an All-in challenge to the other players while holding A8.  He got called by Leo, who held a far greater chip lead while holding AK.  The board showed JK629 giving Leo a pair of Kings which resulted in Chris’s busting out leaving Leo and Beatriz Bernal Leonardo as the final two players at the table.  Chris Sammut was awarded €1490 for placing 3rd, an excellent placing, considering the high level of international competition at the tournament.
With just two players left in the game and a great disparity between their chip stacks, it seemed like Leo would have forcefully finished the game in a few hands, yet Beatriz showed no signs of weakness.  She started pushing Leo into uncomfortable positions which led to him handing her many blinds and small raises after folding hands in order not to lose big chunks of his pot all at once.  Within a few rounds, however, Beatriz had reached Leo’s Chip stack which was over 365K before they competed heads up, and slowly surpassed him.
Beatriz started by doubling up with the first All-in by Leo when he was holding 69 against her 98.  The table showed AA934 giving her the advantage with her higher kicker and doubling her chip stack as she uncovered her hole cards.
A few bluffs, aggressive plays, and several uncalled all-ins later, Beatriz was now holding a larger stack than Leo, who was playing very passively at this advanced stage of the game.  Beatriz gave Leo a very hard time in this heads-up challenge playing very aggressively, forcefully pushing Leo out of many pots by re-raising and pushing all-in to dominate her much more experienced opponent.

The game came to a close at around 2:00am when Leo pushed All-in holding K9 only to get called by Beatriz who held a much stronger hand – A pair of Kings.  The flop showed 94T64, which gave Beatriz a much stronger lead, as Leo’s hand didn’t gain strength with any of the Flop, Turn or River cards.  By now, Beatriz’s stack covered Leo’s push which guaranteed her 1st Place in the Halloween tourney, sending out Leo Said in a very respectable 2nd place with €2500 and winning herself €4000 in cash in addition to the Poker Table generously sponsored by Malta Poker Supplies.
Beatriz, our first ever female participant to win such an event, was delighted with her biggest win to date, and admitted that she hardly ever plays live tournaments at such an entry price, yet was encouraged to play by a close friend, who also participated in the event, yet didn’t place himself ‘in the money’.  Her well paced aggressive style and heads-up strategy, were the decisive strengths with which she managed to outsmart her final opponent in a heads up challenge that saw her chip stack increase by over 700% in the last few hands of the tourney.
With her stunning performance at the final table, this young and flourishing player has proven that Poker, which usually features a higher male participation rate, is a game which goes beyond gender, and serves as a perfect example for aspiring female poker players giving them more confidence in participating in similar events held around the islands.
1. Beatriz Bernal Leonardo [Spain] – €4000
2. Leo Said [Malta] – Satellite – €2500
3. Chris Sammut [Malta]- € 1490
4. David Meli [Malta[ – Satellite – € 1250
5. Spartaco Vivaldi [Italy] – € 950
Photos of the Event may be viewed at the Gallery at MaltaPokerEvents.com.  A highlights video of the Halloween tournament will also be online in the coming days.
The November satellite tournaments are back starting from Thursday, the 5th November at the Portomaso Casino.  Winners of these satellite events will win their seats into the November €220 taking place at the Portomaso Casino on Sunday the 29th November 2009.