The 3rd Malta Poker Open – Powered by XLBet.com ‘Stage 1’ satellite kicked off on the 24th August 2010 at the Portomaso Casino, St. Julians, Malta. 54 Poker players registered for the event which reached a prize pool of €1,510.
The ‘Stage 1’ satellite featured an entry free of €10 + €1 – a very affordable buy-in for poker players aiming to participate at the €1,100 Malta Poker Open main event – Powered byXLBet.com. The tournament structure allowed players to purchase two re-buys throughout the tourney and the opportunity to acquire an add-on at the onset of the first break. 5,000 chips were given out to the players at the start of the tourney giving them lots of space to test the waters while the blinds were still at a low level.
There were a numerous cash game players who took their seats at the tournament too. With the first super-satellite less than two weeks away, it seemed that most of the cash players participated in the tournament to try their shot at a low cost placing for the Super Satellite.
Some of the previous week’s winners also joined in the action. John and Maude Smith, both ‘In the money’ winners from the previous two ‘Stage 1’ satellites also took another chance at winning a consecutive ‘Super satellite’ which they may use at any of the Super Satellites scheduled for the 5th September, 3rd October and 28th or 29th October 2010.
At 9:20pm, the prize-pool was already up to €930 and players were at the 4th level of blinds which reached 150/300 with 25 chips being paid out by the players in antes. Average stack had reached 9,300 with a total of 465,000 of chips in play.
At the break which took place after the 5th level of blinds, we approached Sharona Refalo, during her second entry at the ‘Stage 1’ satellite for a quick chat about her journey to theMalta Poker Open 2010.
Sharona, a Gozitan player from Ghajn Sielem, told us that she’s been playing poker for the last two and a half years but only started playing in casinos a few months ago, since she’s turned 25. She also shared that she had already played in casinos abroad and got some ‘in the money’ placings.
Sharona told us that “It’s an interesting experience to finally train myself at playing poker at the live tables in local casinos. Before I was of age I had no choice but to play in online poker tournaments, and although it shares identical rules to live poker, it’s a completely different ball game.”
“Apart from playing online, I also got some practice playing poker at home games. There’s a very high interest in poker in Gozo too. It’s not the first time that I had to decline an invitation by a friend because I was already committed to going to another friend’s house for a home tournament. I also encourage many of my friends to come over to the Casinos in Malta to give live poker a try, competing against the more experienced players here.”
“I love the game and usually excel in heads up, or short handed tables. I much prefer those scenarios to 9 or 10 handed tables. In any case, playing at a low entry tournament such as the ten euro ‘Stage 1’ satellites is a great way for me to get used to multi table tournaments. It’s an affordable entry, and while everybody gets a chance to play, the competition is fairly interesting.”
“I found out about the Malta Poker Open powered by XLBet.com through the Malta Poker Events facebook page, there are frequent updates with lots of information about the poker scene in Malta, which is really handy for local poker fans like myself”
“I’ve already made a lot of new friends by participating at live poker events in Malta. I much prefer it to online play, the social aspect makes it more involving. I had originally tried theonline satellites on XLBet.com for the December Special Edition tourney, but hadn’t got a placing – Now that online satellites are running again for the Malta Poker Open, I’ll also take my chances there too!”
Following the 10 minute break we headed back to the tables for a quick headcount. 48 players were left in the game from the original starting count of 54. Including the re-buys and add-ons, the prize-pool went all the way up to €1510, the greatest pool reached so far, resulting in a total of 12 super satellites which were to be given out at the end on the night. The prize-pool also allowed for an additional six ‘Stage 1’ satellites resulting in a total of 18 prizes given out at the end of the tournament.
At the 9th level of blinds – that had started at 22:40hrs, 39 players were left in the tournament. The average stack rose to 19,359 chips and Keith Boniface was in the lead holding approximately 60,000 chips. Giuseppe Cali was in close second holding around 55k and Joe Mangion followed with about 50,000, Moira Cassar, one of the few remaining female players in the game maintained a strong position in fourth place [43,000 chips] after showing very consistent plays throughout the entire tournament. She was closely followed by Giuseppe Salustri, an Italian player, and a relatively new face in the Malta Poker Events scene.
Almost 2 hours later, at 00:30hrs, the blinds had reached 3k/6k and 18 players were left in the game. Tony Ciantar and Keith Boniface were leading the tournament when Aaron David Zammit exited the tourney in 18th place.
A few hands later, Moira Cassar doubled up after entering a pot against Jackie Cachia. Moira held 78 and pushed all in, hoping to attract very few callers. It was a tough hand to refuse for Jackie who held AK and called Moira’s push a few moments later. Luckily for Moira she managed to hit a straight, and doubled up against Jackie. The hand increased Moira’s stack to 59,000 chips, yet didn’t send Jackie out of the tourney as she was holding a much larger stack than Moira before entering the hand.
Luck didn’t seem to be on Jackie’s side at that blind level, as a few hands later, she ran into a monster hand whilst holding A6. Jackie pushed all in pre-flop and got called by Salustri, who called Jackie’s push and showed AsKc. The dealer uncovered a 9h Qs Ks Js and 10s resulting in a beautiful royal flush for Salustri who sent out Jackie in 16th place.
With fifteen players left in the game, and Ketih Boniface still in the lead, blinds were at the 4k/8k level when Giuseppe Cali lost his entire stack to Jacques Balzan Demajo. Jacques started off with AT, pushed all in and got called by Cali. Jacques successfully paired his Ace sending Cali out in 15th position, leaving 14 players in the tourney, with just two players to go before the tournament came to a close.
The next player out was Yan Agius who pushed with KT and got called by Moira Cassar with her AK. Moira won with an A high as none of the cards dealt at the table helped her or her opponent’s hand get any stronger. She was now in possession of over 80,000 chips.
The game finally came to a close when Kenneth Ellul pushed all in, whilst holding a pair of 7’s. Ellul got called by Vytautas Paukstys who held AQ and was lucky enough to pair both his hole cards by the turn of the river, winning the hand with 2 pairs, Aces and Queens and sending out Kenneth Ellul in 13th position.
A total of 18 players made it into the money at the third edition of the ‘Stage 1’ live satellite tournament, with 12 super satellite tickets won [worth €120] and 6 ‘Stage 1’ tickets for the upcoming weekly satellite.
Super Satellite ticket winners included:
Jacques Balzan Demajo
‘Stage 1’ ticket winners included
13th Kenneth Ellul
14th Yan Agius
15th Giuseppe Cali
16th Jackie Cachia
17th Joe Smith
18th Aaron David Zammit
The next edition of the ‘Stage 1’ satellite will be held on Tuesday the 31st August at the Portomaso Casino, St. Julians, Malta. Poker players are advised to register early for the event to ensure participation and avoiding queuing up in the tournament waiting list. The event is capped at 50 players.
Winners of the ‘Stage 1’ satellites may use their tickets for the ‘Super Satellites’ which are taking place at the Portomaso Casino on the following dates: 5th September / 3rd October / 28th October / 29th October. In the three ‘Stage 1’ satellite events that have taken place so far, a total of 32 ‘Super’ satellite tickets have been given out.
The Malta Poker Open 2010 – powered by XLBet.com, will take place between the 29th and 31st October 2010 at the Portomaso Casino. The tournament’s main event will feature a buy-in of €1,100 and is expected to attract several poker players from around Europe to compete for a potential prize-pool in excess of €150,000. For more details about the MaltaPoker Open powered by XLBet.com event as well as satellite schedules and qualifying options, visit Malta Poker Events at http://www.maltapokerevents.com