MPNPT Malta’17: Team32Red Report

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Good things come in small packages, and Malta seems to more than fit that particular bill. A naturally attractive place with a lot to offer in its tiny area of just 121 square miles, this popular island that sits in the Mediterranean Sea between Europe and North Africa proved once again to be the perfect venue for an international poker festival.

That was then, this is now…

The MPN Poker Tour last visited Malta in 2014. Along with Tallinn, Estonia, to where the tour will return later this year (19-22 October), it’s a testament to this mini paradise that it was chosen to again host the burgeoning tour. A conspicuously good development that you’ll see below is that in the intervening three years since first touching down on the sun-soaked island, the MPNPT has emerged as a major tour, with the key numbers this time dwarfing the first Mediterranean edition.

 

The Party

Malta used to be called Melita – meaning the island of honey – by the ancient Greeks and Romans. This is fitting, perhaps, given both the varied cuisine on offer and the limitless choice of beverages with which to wash down said cuisine. No doubt this was a factor at the now must-attend MPNPT Welcome Party, which took place on Thursday at Hugo’s Terrace. Indeed, it was free drinks all night, but Malta will also be remembered as the first time a great new attraction featured at the Tour…

 

Pocket Poker

Pocket Poker already sounds like a perfectly catchy name for a new poker game and, if the reaction of both players and spectators (yes – spectators) at the party is anything to go by, watch this space… Microgaming’s Ryan Pretorius, a talented developer, traveled all the way from South Africa with his new creation, which is a spectator-friendly Heads-Up game. Each player has their own device and the game is transmitted on a TV screen so that everyone can see the action as it unfolds. A 36-player knockout tournament was organised and it was a great success, with the crowd cheering on the players! When the proverbial dust had settled and drifted out to sea (just outside the venue) two Team32Red players had taken the two prizes up for grabs: Dmytriy Nesin (Ukraine) pocketed (see what we did there?) free entry to the €300+30 MPNPT NLH Freezeout Event, and Artur Yarovoy earned free entry to the €100+10 Play2Care tournament.

The Play2Care event, incidentally, was MPNPT Malta’s official charity partner (helping people with neurological disease), players being able to increase their stack by 10% by paying an extra €10, which was then matched by Microgaming.

 

The Numbers

As was mentioned earlier, the MPNPT has ballooned in size during the last three years, and it’s almost expected nowadays to see total entries in the €500 + €50 NLH Main Event combine to ‘break’ the advertised guaranteed prize pool. Malta 2017 was no exception, with the excellent venue, Casino Malta (located in the Intercontinental Hotel complex), managing with the numbers.

Day 1a saw 99 starters and, eventually, 28 survivors through to Day 2, Alan Carr topping the field with 185,600 chips. 99 might indeed seem like a healthy size, but Day 1b attracted 265 starters. UK youngster, Jonathan Bowers, with a mighty 278,500-strong stack, had amassed the most chips of the day’s 75 survivors.

Add four extra registrations, and 107 players fought it out on Day 2 for a seat at the final table which, when players regrouped to decide who would win top honours, saw Alessandro Siena of Italy, an online MTT specialist, with a mountainous stack of 2,854,000 chips. Perhaps not surprisingly, he used his numerical advantage to the full and succeeded in securing the MPNPT Malta trophy and, of course, the €35,000 winner’s purse. The fact the 20-year-old lives in Malta also gave it a bit of a home win feel.

Let’s take a moment here to reflect on how far the MPNPT has come. We’ve just seen that the 1st prize this year was a massive €35,000, which equates to about 2/3 of the TOTAL prize money at Malta 2014! This year the €150,000 guarantee was smashed thanks to the 368 total entries, which bumped up the total prize money to a whopping €178,480!

 

Team32Red… onward & upward!

With the MPNPT looking so healthy as the world tour continues, we’re well aware, and very proud, that our players have made such a great contribution to the success story. We have an unrivaled satellite structure for these events in terms of bankroll-friendly qualification opportunities, the point being to present our players with maximum chances to bag both €1,500 packages and €550 Seats for peanuts (the satellite quest for Malta started at a mere €1!).

This is evidenced by the fact that Team32Red is ever-present at MPNPT events, always conspicuous by being excellent ambassadors both during the tournaments and away from the tables. As always, some players fared better than others but, importantly, a good time was had by all…

 

Team32Red Results

Julie Whitworth had an eventful time in Malta. A multiple qualifier, this time she hadn’t done so but went along anyway, which shows what a great time our players have at these festivals. After a bit of people-watching and finding herself suffering from sunburn, she decided to go for it, and entered the Main Event… a great decision, because by the end of the weekend she was on her way home with the €1,450 she’d earned for finishing in 25th! This was Julie’s fourth cash in seven MPNPT tournaments, including twice in a Main Event!

Meanwhile, other notable performances were Johannes Hubalek (who played in the Vienna leg in January) in 29th and Dara O’Kearney’s 33rd. Dmytriy Nesin, apparently not satisfied with his Pocket Poker victory, won the €135+15 MPNPT Casino Malta Poker Cup, which also saw Volodymyr Pastuschenko finish in 6th place, and Daniel Leal (who had won a €1,500 package in a freeroll at 32Red) came 9th.

Memorable Hands

This part of the report should paint both an interesting and instructional picture for those players who are interested in how tournament poker can produce all sorts of situations, regardless of what the event is. Whether it’s a big money festival or a new players’ freeroll, the poker gods don’t discriminate…

Here are a few of our players’ experiences at the tables:

Knut Berntsen: “Lost KK v QQ in a side event when my opponent flopped quads for the ultimate pain”

Simon Taylor: (a veteran of Tallinn – twice – Dublin, Sofia and Vienna): “I made a bad fold early, then lost all my chips with QsJs vs AsAh on a 8s7s6s flop”

David Lappin: “KK into AA to bust in the very first hand of the €300 side event”

Mario Sanchez: (played in Tallinn, Morocco and Vienna), without even making a single reference to specific cards – sums up what we all go through on a regular basis (often without properly noticing how or why!): “… lost 80% of my stack in the first three levels…”

Finally, look what happened to Simon Millard (played in Ireland, Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria – twice) in a cash game: “Lost a €180 pot all-in with JJ v 72 when he hit 222…”

But it’s not all bad… Here’s how Dara O’Kearney (he’s played everywhere!) got the most out of a pair of aces: “I min- raise AA under-the-gun, playing 28BB, to 8,000. The Button (Daniel Jacobsen, who ended up coming second) throws in 9,000, saying nothing (he didn’t see my raise). Both blinds defend. Flop of 522 is checked around (I’d sometimes bet but was hoping the aggro Button would stab). Turn is an ace and I check again as there is very little that can call me. No bad River cards, so I might as well try to induce a bluff or let someone hit the River. River is a jack and the Small Blind bets 17,000. I raise to 45,000 and he ‘cry’ calls”

Final Table Replay

 

Away from the tables…

While some of you may or may not find it interesting to know that both Bryan Adams and Britney Spears are of Maltese descent, or that Popeye Village Malta is a successful tourist attraction nearly four decades on from when the musical film Popeye was made there in 1980, our players were probably more impressed that Valletta was registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, or by the sea and the sun and the locals.

Volodymyr Pastuschenko sums it up nicely: “Malta is so magnificent. Valletta may be the most beautiful city I have ever been to.”

Others, meanwhile, soaked up the culture – the two Simons (Millard and Taylor) might have waxed lyrical that Calypso Cave is said to be the very cave that Homer wrote about in The Odyssey, but instead this stuck in their memories (Simon Millard): “Went to Valetta. That was nice, and visited the pub Oliver Reed had his last drinks in before he died…”

 

Finally, a good old ‘shout-out’ to the following, without whom etc… MPNPT’s globetrotting Clodagh Hansen and the indefatigable Mark Spur, Jess Botha, who did a superb job as organizer, and Dana Immanuel, Jen Mason and Rod Stirzaker, the magnificent bloggers.

The next stop on the MPNPT is Manchester, 20-23 July, for which you can qualify via all manner of player-friendly routes at 32Red – even hitting a royal flush in our fun-filled, €3 rebuy, €500 Guaranteed Flush Royale (nightly, 7pm UK time) tournament gets you an instant €1,500 package!

In the meantime, have fun at the tables!

Next up, MPNPT Manchester!

Au Revoir Mazagan!

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MPNPT Morocco, 10-13 November 2016
Team 32Red Trip Report

It could be you…

Online poker is great. We get to choose when and where we play, whether it’s in bed during the day (if we so wish), on the train or while watching reality TV with our feet up and an assortment of snacks at hand. But what about ‘live’ play? Some of us try home games and put up with whatever distractions are thrown at us (the only upside of a child gate-crashing the evening or the phone constantly ringing being a ready-made excuse), or we try our luck at a tournament at a local casino which, as many of us know, isn’t always guaranteed to be an enjoyable experience.

It doesn’t have to be this way and, indeed, at 32Red it certainly isn’t! We offer our players opportunities, throughout the year, to win their way to exciting, professionally hosted and organised poker festivals. These are big money affairs that take place around the globe in the shape of the MPN Poker Tour. And the key factor here is to make these great poker holidays available to all players, the emphasis being on catering for the typical poker fan with a modest bankroll.

Our satellite structure, combined with the sheer number and diversity of our qualifying tournaments and general set-up, means that everyone has a realistic chance of winning €1,500 packages or €550 buy-ins for the Main Event of a festival. It’s by no means unusual to win a package for the price of a beer, or even for nothing, whether in a freeroll tournament, special promotion, or by making a royal flush in our nightly €500 Guaranteed Flush Royale tournament!

The Venue: Poker as it should be…

While the prospect of mixing with seasoned locals in the town’s casino might understandably not seem too attractive an environment to play poker, what about this description: ‘Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort is a 5 star hotel located in El Jadida, Morocco. It offers a wonderful, year-round climate, an array of activities and entertainment, including a world-class Spa, a Golf course (designed by none other than Gary Player, and stretching alongside the 7km private beach…), Morocco’s largest Casino, a variety of restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world and endless activities…’

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The Event

Now, throw in a €125,000 Main Event, a juicy side event and a few other tournaments, and the notion that you could win a €1,500 package to a poker extravaganza at one of the world’s most luxurious resorts sounds almost too good to be true. Almost, but not quite. In fact, one member of Team 32Red found himself playing ‘live’ festival poker for the first time in Mazagan, and by virtue of his making a royal flush in the aforementioned Flush Royale tournament (the buy-in for this, by the way, is a mere €3).

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The Welcome Party

TheWelcome Party was held in the plush surroundings of the Alias nightclub. With Redbull as a sponsor, the favourite drink of the night was the poker player’s classic: vodka & Redbull. As can be seen from the photos, Team32Red had such a great time that there were no thoughts of getting an early night ahead of their participation in Day 1b…

 

The Poker

With such spectacular surroundings – as pointed out by one of the players who enjoyed a massage while gazing through the open door of the Spa on to the beach, and the Atlantic Ocean, and beyond – and facilities one could be forgiven for seeing the poker as a distraction. However, thanks to an airy, spacious playing room and excellent, professional organisation that provided friendly, helpful and top level dealers, the playing conditions matched the venue. Providing players and spectators alike with free drinks throughout the festival was another nice touch.

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Thus, for these Europeans (and our own Canadian, Ronald Aldino, who has toured much of Europe thanks to taking advantage of our satellites at 32Red) – despite waking up in November to the luxurious, relaxing sun-lit surroundings that Mazagan had to offer across its 250 hectares of make-believe, the players had plenty of incentive to go into battle at the poker tables.

Even the most die-hard online addict would be hard-pressed to justify forever staying at home playing in his underwear while surviving on the occasional sandwich. If the photos in this report don’t get you chomping at the bit to qualify for our other MPNPT festivals in great venues, then nothing will…

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The numbers

The main Event was split into four days, with Day 1a – not surprisingly, given that many players were yet to arrive – having the fewest contenders. Home player, Soufiane Ouadoudy, ended the opener with a relatively massive stack of 268,200 chips (players started with 25,000), 26 of the 92 entries making it through to Day 2…

Team 32Red players were out in force on Day 1b in a field that more than doubled the previous day’s entries. As another taste of the atmosphere, it should be pointed out that there was a kind of entertainment during the dinner break that, it’s safe to say, isn’t the usual fare in a UK casino – namely, a belly dancer! This happened to Angus Dunnington who, suitably inspired, returned to the tournament after earlier being down to 4K to eventually be all-in heads-up with QQ v JJ in a 110,000 pot (way over double the average stack at the time)… Alas the first card to appear was a dreaded J, and that was that.

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Here are some more numbers: a four-speed 270CC engine, 570 metre long, 6 metre wide track with Formula 1 standard crash barriers capable of absorbing up to four tonnes of shock pressure… Yes – we’re talking another activity for the players, namely a new karting centre where each vehicle comes with a transponder for live timing and race control (enabling, apparently, racers to post their results in real time to their Facebook account or email address; obviously – by this point of the proceedings we were expecting no less!). This would anyway be enough to attract a bunch of competitive poker players but, for good measure, the winner would be invited back as a guest to Mazagan for a Deepstack Poker Tournament! The same prize was also on offer at a Paintball competition! The runners-up, incidentally, each received a bottle of champagne…

 

Meanwhile, back to the poker, and Deccy Rice was the highest placed Team 32Red player in the €550 Main Event, finishing 31st for 13,000 Dirhams. The total prize pool had reached 1,508,350 Dirhams thanks to the popular unlimited rebuy option which continued until the start of Day 2. The eventual winner finally emerged on Sunday, with Sebastien Compte overcoming an initial 6.1:1.7 million chip deficit to defeat Day 1a leader, Soufiane Ouadoudy, and pocket a cool 280,000 Dirhams (approximately €26,000).

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David Lappin won the High Roller event to the tune of 67,000 Dirhams, Dara O’Kearney finishing 3rdPaulius Sabaliauskas was runner-up in what seemed like a marathon MPNPT Mazagan Poker Cup, with Angus Dunnington finishing 11th … and fun was had in both the Doubles event, where the players of each ‘team’ changed over at each new level, and the dog-eat-dog Hyper Turbo Freezeout with which the festival came to an entertaining end.

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Memorable hands

There’s a thin line between glory and bust, as was experienced by Mario Juste Sanchez in the Main Event, when his lower straight ran into a bigger and quite unexpected bigger straight! All the more frustrating considering he’d been utterly card dead – the poker player’s nightmare scenario – for much of the time before this ‘opportunity’ arose.

Volodymyr Pastuschenko, the veteran from Ukraine who has qualified with 32Red for Tallinn (2015), Tbilisi, Vienna, Sofia and Tallinn 2016, went out with AK suited v AA, but had a (quote) ‘Super’ time in Morocco.

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Peter Raynor, another Team 32Red regular, having previously won his way to the last four events, described his exit: “Exit hand in the Main Event was a case of me flopping top two pair and a flush draw… the villain (a local), it turned out, had an open ended straight draw which he got quite aggressive with. We ended up getting it all-in on the turn when he shoved (having made his straight), leaving me with a decision of 16k to win 68k – I went with it and missed all my outs…”

Julie Whitworth, in her fifth MPNPT festival, ran into a higher pocket pair in both events, with JJ into QQ, and then QQ into AA. But “Loved the go- karting and, of course, I enjoyed every minute!”

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That’s exactly what we want to hear at 32Red because, at the end of the day, it’s mainly about having a great time. Obviously, with a lot of money at stake, it’s well worth qualifying for these MPNPT events via 32Red, but what keeps these poker fans striving to win €1,500 packages and €550 Main Event seats is first the holiday experience, and then the poker.

Portrait Pics

 

Landscape Pics

 

Play at the next leg of the MPN Poker Tour in Vienna

Vienna 2016 was so good that the tour is returning in 2017! The Montesino Casino in the Austrian capital will again play host to what promises to be a great poker festival, one reason being the guaranteed €200,000 prize pool for the €550 buy-in Main Event. Qualify for peanuts – or even nothing at all! – at 32Red, and win a fantastic €1,500 MPNPT package to this major poker city that just happens to be one of the most picturesque, welcoming, culturally rich cities in the world!

Find out more

MPNPT Tallinn 2016

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The changing face of Online Poker

Online poker has come a long way since the early days, when socially inept games fanatics who had never set foot in a traditional bricks & mortar casino would sit at home in their underwear, contemplating the implications of a check-raise in a Fixed Limit cash game… Of course, exploiting the absolute privacy afforded us by playing within the safe confines of our own walls still means that the modern online poker player has, at some point, enjoyed the game in various stages of undress (yes – we’ve all done it).

However, times have changed, and poker itself has moved on considerably such that, as its reputation as a pastime has allowed it to assume an air of everyday respectability, so the aims and expectations of the typical poker enthusiast have evolved. Not only are the games far more varied and exciting than they used to be, but whereas players used to deliberately place themselves in the ‘online’ camp, it’s now completely normal to take part in the numerous qualification quests that provide us with the opportunity to win all-inclusive packages to ‘live’ events around the globe for as little as 25 cents.

The rise and rise of the MPN Poker Tour is perfectly indicative of the changed face of online poker, the numbers speaking for themselves. In just a couple of years the popularity of using bankroll-friendly online satellites to qualify for player-friendly international poker festivals in such places as London, Vienna, Sofia and, recently (after a successful first time as host), a return to Tallinn, is reflected in both actual entries at the events and the snowballing in size of the numbers representing 32Red. As far as the latter group is concerned, what started as a few players being spotted sporting the 32Red logo has ballooned to a veritable invasion of what has become known as Team 32Red players, a proud band of typical poker fans simply enjoying a poker holiday that has the added bonus of a potentially big payout! And nearly all have won €1,500 MPNPT packages in a cheap satellite tournament, or even by virtue of a single hand by hitting a royal flush in 32Red’s nightly Flush Royale tournament, where the buy-in is a mere €3!

And therein lies the changing face of modern day online poker. It’s not necessarily all about number-crunching, robotic, multi-tabling bottom line accounts keeping! It’s about having fun, enjoying the game, whether it’s cash or a few Sit & Go tournaments or the thrills and spills of a multi-player event with juicy prizes, jackpots and the prospect of sitting down to play ‘live’ in an interesting faraway place, in the company of fellow poker fans.

Read on to see how some of our Team 32Red players enjoyed their time in Estonia’s picturesque capital, Tallinn, in August.

Old City, Young Country

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When you first arrive in Tallinn’s Old Town it’s not surprising to learn that it dates back to medieval times. Moreover, the first mention of the city dates back to 1154. Yet Estonia itself – at least as an independent nation – could be described as one of the world’s youngest if we consider that it came into being in its current form only as recently as 1991.

No longer part of the former Soviet Union, it didn’t take long to thrive and, while the Tourist Office blurb that refers to the zoo ‘boasting the world’s largest collection of mountain goats and sheep’ can be rather misleading, such a description belies the forward-thinking nature of Estonia.

You might be surprised to learn that Estonia has one of the planet’s highest internet penetration rates, for example, and was the first country to use online voting for political elections.

Quite fitting, then, that Tallinn has the enviable distinction of being the first city to act as a return venue for an online-poker oriented international tour in the form of the MPNPT.

Back for more

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Even a one-table home game can be problematic for its organiser, so hosting a few hundred players from around the world over a few days is a major undertaking. Inviting large numbers of the poker community to come back for a second instalment is another matter entirely, not least because previous success has already set a benchmark that organisers must endeavour to match. One of the attractions in Tallinn’s case was that the first time Team 32Red players joined fellow competitors in this colourful capital city was during winter, whereas this latest edition of the MPN Tour gave players the chance to explore what Tallinn has to offer in the summer (although, of course, good weather can’t be guaranteed!).

It’s the taking part that counts…


It’s testament to the underlying theme of poker that we can report that a ‘good time was had by all’, as the saying goes, without – this time around – any of our qualifiers succeeding in winning a significant prize. That would have been a nice bonus, but the atmosphere amongst Team 32Red players was fantastic throughout the festival.

Once the proverbial dust had settled it was a home win for the host city to celebrate, as Estonian Ranno Sootla added to what is already an impressive tally of results by winning the €500 + €50 buy-in Main Event to the tune of €31,000.

Running between August 12-14, the tournament totaled 338 entries, thus seeing the prize fund exceed the guarantee to reach a juicy €163,930. Sootla entered the final, heads-up phase of the marathon against Roland Luik with a 7:1 chip lead. Luik had been the erstwhile leader, at one point possessing half of the total chips(!), but he was unable to turn around such a deficit and soon succumbed, his 88 losing to AT to leave him having to ‘settle’ for the €24,000 runner-up prize.

Bubble trouble…

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The highest placed Team 32Red member in the Main Event was Mahala Roche (alias: Irish_Aces) of Ireland who qualified via a Sunday Package Final. After ducking and diving for so long and with her hands almost touching one of the 44 paid spots, Mahala suffered every poker player’s nightmare by finishing on the ‘bubble’ in 45th place… However, her first MPNPT event won’t be her last because, as a consolation prize for her efforts, the organisers rewarded her with the €550 buy-in for the next leg of the MPNPT in Morocco (10-13 November). Her overall view of her experience summed up in a few words: “Had a ball… loved the homely feel of 32Red…”

Double trouble (not…)

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Kevin Greathead (Kevathallam), from Doncaster, teamed up with fellow Team 32Red player, Julie Whitworth (alias: Ladydriver) for a collective effort that saw them finish in 5th place in the ‘doubles’ side event! Between them these two popular 32Red players have notched up a number of Tour trips, and they epitomize what today’s game is all about.

Meet the Team…

 

Next stop: Morocco!

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Satellites are already underway for the next leg of the MPNPT, which will be held in Morocco, 10-13 November. Win a €1,500 package for this €125,000 Guaranteed event for pennies – go to Tournaments > Satellites in the Poker Lobby and we’ll see you in Morocco!

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MPNPT Sofia Trip Report

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There’s more than a touch of irony that one of the great benefits of modern online poker – a technological advancement that allows us to play not just at home but at any time, anywhere – is the facility to qualify for ‘live’ poker festivals around the globe. Poker fans who have never set foot in a ‘bricks & mortar’ casino, nor ever expected to, can now win their way to international, big money events – and for less than the price of a coffee!

Culture, Cafes & Poker

As it happens, Sofia is the perfect place to sit in the sun having a coffee, taking in the view of the nearby mountains that encircle this 7,000-year-old city. And with such a player/bankroll-friendly satellite structure at 32Red Poker a host of players won their way to Bulgaria’s ancient capital for the latest €150,000 leg of the MPN Poker Tour.

There’s a buzz associated with these tournaments that’s well worth making the effort to experience, and if you’re sitting at the table when the cards are being dealt having won the €550 buy-in or even a €1,500 package it’s all the more enjoyable. Not surprisingly, our numerous qualifiers who become part of Team 32Red continue to make the most of qualifying opportunities, and we want all our poker enthusiasts to get involved and join the tour – even our nightly €3 buy-in €500 Flush Royale tournament, for example, has a special prize of a €1,500 MPNPT package for a royal flush!

Home success in Main Event

The MPN Tour has been an enormous success and Sofia was yet another instalment that saw the size of the field generate more prize money than the guarantee which, this time, was €125,000. In fact, over the opening Day 1a & 1b there were 263 entries and an additional 39 re-entries, boosting the total prize pool to €146,470, with a juicy €35,000 for the eventual winner.

With bagpipes (called ‘gaida’) being a national instrument, a public holiday dedicated to St George and a popular Irish pub, Sofia’s perhaps surprising links to UK and Irish players could have led to this particular visiting contingent taking home a chunk of the booty but, as it turned out, the Main Event proved to be a home success. Bulgarians took the top prizes, with Stefan Genchev emerging as the eventual winner.

However, there were a couple of notable results for (Bulgarian!) Team 32Red players, with Edmondi Mkhitaryan winning a tidy €2,700 for finishing in 9th place, and Stanislav Ivanov earning €2,200 for an impressive 16th.

‘Ever growing, never old’

That’s the memorable motto for Sofia which, incidentally, is the Greek word for ‘wisdom’ – we could do worse than apply these words to how we approach poker. Big money festivals are indeed exciting, not least because every player will at some point be within a big hand or a stroke of luck of making a concerted stand for glory. The flip side, of course, is that we are also a big hand or a cruel, ill-timed moment of poor fortune from a painful exit. This, as all poker players eventually realise, is simply part of the game that we need to accept and from which we have to move on without letting the experience taint our future experiences…

Players’ Thoughts

No doubt those players who won a €1,500 package to Sofia will have enjoyed their stay at the Radisson Blu Grand Hotel that was both very well situated and, conveniently, adjoining the host casino. Catering for so many players and dealing with the logistics of organizing such a big event is bound to present a problem or two, and the fact that smoking was allowed understandably didn’t go down well with the vast majority of players from countries where times have changed considerably since ‘smoke-filled rooms’ was the stereotypic norm. But, as the old adage goes, you can’t please everyone, all of the time and, overall, Sofia provided players with an interesting taste of both poker and culture.

Team 32Red qualifier Knut Berntsen’s experience was typical – he had a couple of suggested improvements but also had this to say: “On the positive side, I loved the atmosphere in Sofia, with a good mix of online qualifiers and locals in a friendly environment. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, which is always nice to see in an event like this! Moreover, one important reason I started to play satellites for the MPNPT is that the tour offers stops at locations where you normally won’t find bigger poker tournaments. Please continue to do so in the future, as it is a great opportunity to travel to new places and get to play some poker as well…”

Bouncebackability

‘Bouncebackability’ is a word first championed by a UK television sports show to describe the ability to take bad results and disappointment in one’s stride and bounce back to success. Our Poker Ambassador, Angus Dunnington subsequently adopted it in his psychology oriented poker musings and, fortunately, our Team 32Red players demonstrated this capacity to dust themselves off and climb back on the proverbial horse in Sofia.

Phillip Huxley (England) – “Bad beats on me in the Main Event. Bad beats given out in the Bulgaria Cup!”, 32Red’s indefatigable Poker Manager Nick Diaz (Gibraltar), Vyacheslav Blazhko (Ukraine) and Asif Warris finished 11th, 19th, 22nd and 23rd respectively in the €135 buy-in Bulgaria Poker Cup.

On the last day of the festival Nick did the poker equivalent of striking while the iron is hot. With a dozen or so players left in the €100 buy-in Sunday Showdown, Oliver Fabian was hoping his small stack would see him into the prizes when Angus Dunnington took a stand with AQ but was knocked out by a pair of sevens in a typical make or break hand. Some adventure later, and Oliver’s ‘chip and a chair’ story earned him 4th place, while Nick won the trophy! Modest to a fault, here is Nick’s version of his success: “I’m a lucky fish… had good cards at the beginning so that played out well for me. I made some sneaky moves early on which played out well, too, and had four times the starting stack by the first break. Then I went card dead so shifted down gears, and picked up the pace towards the final table. In the very last hand I had KQ and my opponent 3x raised with 44 – I shoved and a king appeared on the flop…”

And there we have it. Another interesting poker tour stop for 32Red Poker players, who proved once again that there’s more to poker than winning. Here are some words of wisdom from Team 32Red qualifier Andre Silva (whose qualifying quest began with a €3 satellite!) that put the game – and these trips – perfectly into perspective: “Got eliminated with AA against 32 – never slow-play Aces…”

Photo Gallery

 

Next stop on the MPNPT – Tallinn

Be a part of the next leg of the tour by qualifying for the Tallinn event (11-14 August). Win a fantastic €1,500 package that includes the €550 buy-in to the €125K Main Event, €100 buy-in to €15K Side Event, four nights (for two) at the Hilton Tallinn Park Hotel and €250 towards travel and expenses. Satellites start at only 25 cents!

Find out more

Team 32Red does Vienna

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The MPN Poker Tour has proved to be a tremendous success, with the festivals giving players the opportunity to enjoy the thrills and spills of live poker in a varied selection of venues around the globe. The excitement of poker is one thing, but it’s quite another to be able to experience the different cultures and history that cities such as Tallinn and Tbilisi (places that most of us might not so readily choose to visit) have to offer. Throw in the craic of Dublin and the grandeur of Vienna, and it’s easy to see why record numbers of 32Red players found themselves in the Austrian capital after winning seats or packages through our extensive qualifying process.

Held at the Montesino Casino, 21-24 January 2016, the festival attracted an impressively large field. A total of 431 players took part in the €550 buy-in Main Event and, with 52 re-entries, this made for a tasty prize fund of €241,500. This more than comfortably surpassed the guarantee and produced a first prize of €54,000 for the eventual winner, with a further 52 places being paid.

Team 32Red

Over 30 of the field came from the now visibly noticeable Team 32Red. Poker is indeed an ‘everyman’ (and woman!) game, and this couldn’t be reflected any better than in our group of players. Coming from across the globe, our qualifiers made the most of their time in Vienna, both on and off the tables.

Oh Vienna!

32Red’s Jakob Anyszka (a Vienna native) was able to put his local knowledge to good use… How we perform at the tables has a lot to do with what we get up to when not playing, and our players certainly had an edge over the opposition when it came to making the most of what the city has to offer – as the photos show!

 

‘Live’ Poker

Some of the more experienced 32Red players – such as Vladimir Pastushenko (aka DNIPRO2010), Phill Huxley (Rixdorf), Adrian Nica (Lawliet1) and Angus Dunnington (AngusD) – have considerable ‘live’ poker experience, including the MPN Poker Tour. For others, Vienna was the first time they had found themselves actually sitting at a table with their opponents rather than playing in the quite different online environment. It’s interesting how most players who have hitherto not played live (or not, at least, at such a big festival) can feel more than just a little apprehensive but, in a surprisingly short time, not only get used to it but feel quite at home.

One point made by Simon Millard (Bada_Bing72) – for whom this was his second time at such an event – was that it had taken him a while at the tables for his game to loosen up to the same level as it is online, while others mentioned how there being fewer hands per hour took some getting used to. These same players, it has to be said, performed well, which serves to confirm that, generally, the transition from online to live tends to prove a natural one.

Live poker nowadays wouldn’t be the same without its growing contingent of online players (whether serious or recreational), and it’s good to see 32Red so well represented in the live festival arena. Having established a genuine, impressive presence at international festivals – particularly bearing in mind that we have such a varied group of players who also appreciate such events – we can look forward to similarly positive experiences being shared in the future. With this in mind we will endeavour to continue providing opportunities to qualify for prestigious events through our player/bankroll friendly satellites and other tournaments – the knowledge that a couple of our players were even able to enjoy their trip to Vienna after having hit a royal flush in our Flush Royale tournament, for example, is what makes it all worthwhile!

 

Results

It’s not at all a clichéd approach to say that it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts, so while it would be great to announce that a Team 32Red member took home the first prize of €54,000, this was not to be – an Austrian by the name of Jannis Brauer emerged victorious. However, we did have a number of players cashing in the Main Event, with Canadian Ronald Alino – continuing his tour of Europe that sees him essentially following the MPN tour with each successive satellite qualification – finishing 28th for €1,410 and Peter Raynor (38th), Nadeem Nazir (49th) and the wily Phill Huxley (52) each collecting €1,150 for their efforts.

Others, of course, came close and ran well, and a special mention goes to Martyna Makarove who adapted well to the new surroundings of live poker to cash in the 185-player Austrian Cup!

Exits & Memorable Hands

Nobody likes either to hear or have to tell a so-called ‘bad beat’ story so here is a selection of hands with which some of our players exited tournament play in Vienna – the point being to illustrate the thin line that can mean the difference, for example, between a veritable hat full of chips and a potential big win, or none at all.

Diane Duncan (POKERLADY25) went all-in with AJs but ran into pocket tens after an impressive international poker debut. Pocket tens, meanwhile, is the very hand that Dionne Cowley (RangerMcFriendly) took a stand with, losing to KJ. We all accept the luck factor in poker but, for Dionne, her poor fortune manifested itself in falling ill during her stay. This clearly didn’t help concerned husband Richard, either, so here’s hoping they’ll be back with a vengeance at future tour events.

Short-stacked Simon (Bada_Bing72) Millard put his faith (on 16BB) with K9o, was called by A9 and AT, and that was that. He later remembered that this was the very same hand with which he’d been eliminated on his tour debut…

Satellite ‘killer’ Dara O’Kearney (HopAlongHnsn) shoved with AJs versus QQ, then noticed he’d actually put his remaining chips on the line with J4s! Funny old world.

Finally, even funnier – although not necessarily in the ‘hahaha’ sense for Ivan Damyanov… He went all-in pre-flop with kings, ran into aces and duly walked away, not realising that he still had 2,000 in chips still on the table. Two hours later a sole chip remained.

 

Next Stop

We hope to see Team 32Red similarly represented at the next stop of the MPN tour, which will be in Sofia, 21-24 April. Once again it will be possible to win both €1,500 packages and €500 seats in our satellites and special tournaments, so check out the Poker Lobby and start your quest…

Good luck, and see you in Sofia!

Find out more

MPNPT Dublin 2015

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After a couple of stops in Estonia and Georgia the MPN Poker Tour headed back west to Dublin in early September. Dublin is well-known for all manner of things and is up there with other European capital cities as a popular tourist destination. Thus it was no surprise that poker fans were so eager to qualify for this leg of the MPN Poker Tour via 32Red Poker’s extensive satellite set-up.

Twinned with Barcelona, another international poker venue, the question first-time visitors to the Emerald Isle might have been asking was does the famous Irish ‘craic’ – the art of life – translate to the poker tables, and the answer is a resounding yes. This has nothing, incidentally, to do with the fact that 10 million glasses of Guinness are produced daily in Dublin, but because it was simply a great atmosphere at the excellent Clayton Hotel.

There might have been Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries, but no Scandinavian invasion happened in 2015 and, while around 20 nations were represented in the Main Event, one would be hard-pressed to find a country both more passionate and skillful when it comes to poker. It would be easy to put the home success down to numbers, but this would be a mistake made only by someone who hasn’t spent hours at the tables with the likes of the talented Daniel Tighe – the Main Event winner – and his countrymen and women.

Main Event winner Daniel Tighe

Main Event winner Daniel Tighe

Main Event  – Day 1a

459 players (collectively racking up 570 entries) would eventually sit down over the three 1st Days. These are impressive numbers indeed, especially when put into context of the tour itself – the first MPNPT in London, last year, had 83 Main Event runners. Successive, successful editions have seen the tour firmly establish itself as a key player in international poker, thanks in no small part to a combination of bankroll-friendly buy-ins and player-friendly tournament structures. The overall positive thoughts of our qualifiers reflect this, too…

Bruce Shannon (32Red Poker alias BIGSHANN0615) and Simon Taylor (TTayseer555) rather craftily opted for Day 1a. Contrary to the well-known saying, the proverbial early bird doesn’t always catch the worm but, in this case, playing the first of three days in a re-entry tournament can afford players an additional bite of the cherry. Thusly, Bruce and Simon busted out, but took a day off to recharge the batteries and sat down again on day 1c (see below…).

Bruce Shannon - deja vu?

Bruce Shannon – deja vu?

Day 1b

With more players arriving, more 32Red players took up the gauntlet today among the 146 contenders. Popular veteran Mick McCloskey (aka riverroe88) took advantage of the re-entry facility when busting out during the second level, but went out at level 8…

Barry Burns (Bazzabhoy) exited at level 7, and while fate had not put father and son qualifiers James Gray snr (jamboisgod) and James Gray jnr (jizzim22) on the same table, they were literally feet away from each other on adjacent tables. After much father-son banter and collective misfortune (James Snr, for example – playing at the same table as Angus Dunnington – flopped a set and lost to a runner-runner straight at one point…), son James busted out during level 5, followed by father James a level later.

Barry Burns

Barry Burns wearing his 32Red heart on his sleeve

One of the most popular Dublin phrases is Chancing Your Arm, meaning, of course, taking a chance. This originates from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where you had to put your hand into a hole to open the Medieval Chapter House door. Much ‘chancing’ obviously went on at the poker tables in Dublin. To call Phill Huxley (Rixdorf) a chancer would be in an injustice as he brings a lot of skill and guile to the table, and a practical gamble around the midnight hour, just before play was to end, saw him eliminated. But he would be back with a vengeance…

Phill Huxley

Phill Huxley – there’s a shrewd poker brain under that hat!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD) enjoyed a day of ducking and diving to finish 19th on a healthy stack of 85K, earning a relaxing day off with partner Carole, taking in the Dublin atmosphere.

Day 1c

Not surprisingly this proved to be the busiest day, with a massive 316 runners. Adrian Nica (Lawliet1) had two bites of the cherry but didn’t taste success… Kevin Greathead (Kevathallam) and Sam Welbourne (barrelinmonroe) busted out during level 9. Sam suffered from a dealer error that, ironically, improved his hand – after his second card was dealt face up (under the gun) his third card gave him a pair of sixes (instead of 65)… he opened and ran into a 10BB stack who had 77. C’est la vie.

Adrian Nica

Adrian Nica sporting the cool look

Ronald Alino (lil_J) managed to scrape into Day 2 with a 22K stack(!), Bruce Shannon and Simon Taylor were back, surviving to Day 2 at their second attempt with stacks of 32K and 39K respectively. Then came another Simon – Simon Millard (Bada_Bing72) was having his first taste of international live poker, but a good player is a good player, and he maneuvered his way through to the second day (helped by winning what must have been a nerve-wracking AA v KK all-in pre-flop encounter) with 36K in chips.

Ronald Alino had a rough ride

Ronald Alino had a rough ride

Husband and wife duo Richard (any4napkins) and Dionne Cowley (RangerMcFriendly) were on good form, coasting along – inasmuch as one can actually ‘coast’ in tournament poker – with stacks of 78K and 65K respectively. Indeed this did include an amusing skirmish between Dionne and the aforementioned Phill Huxley. Finding herself short-stacked, Dionne had gone all-in ‘blind’ and been called by Phill, only for her to find aces!

However, this was a just a minor mishap for Phill, who had put Day 1a behind him and had amassed a stack of 108K to put himself nicely placed for Day 2…

Day 2

Ronald Alino was seated at the same table as Angus Dunnington but didn’t have the (relative) luxury of a workable stack and, needing a bit of luck to remain in contention, didn’t get any.

Bruce Shannon also would have been hoping for some good fortune to help his short stack along. With 20BB, and in the BB, he found KQo which, not exactly a monster, is nevertheless a welcome sight in this kind of situation. The action folded round to the SB, who raised to 2.5BB and both ended all-in. Bruce must have thought Christmas had come early when his opponent revealed a well and truly dominated KJ… you guessed it – the Turn brought a Jack and, despite the cruel possibility of overtaking on the river due to a 10-high flop, it wasn’t to be.

Dionne and Bruce

Dionne and Bruce

Simon Taylor and Simon Millard, who had ended their first day similarly ranked, also exited the tournament at around the same time.

Meanwhile, Angus Dunnington, not too happy at having his style cramped by eventual winner Daniel Tighe’s already mountainous stack, went for a cheeky re-raise all-in with AJs, only to see the initial pre-flop aggressor move his own chips in at lightning speed, clearly eager to reveal two shiny aces. As luck would have it… he got none.

Richard Cowley was knocked out (‘mistake/bad timing’) frustratingly close to the money (see below for a very well played hand from Richard), immediately followed by Dara O’Kearney (HopAlongHnsn).

Globetrotter Dara O'Kearney

Globetrotter Dara O’Kearney

Dionne Cowley added to the husband-and-wife team’s frustration by finishing just a few spots from a cash…

Despite valiant attempts from all, only Phill Huxley (54th) and Jamie Flynn (45th) won their way into the prize money, each earning €1075.

Jamie Flynn on his way to the money

Jamie Flynn on his way to the money

Memorable Hand

Richard Cowley had an interesting hand during Day 2 that illustrates well the thought process and ‘nerve’ required to survive the cut and thrust of tournament poker. He raised on the button with 84s and was called by the BB. The flop came Q 10 4 rainbow, his opponent checked, Richard bet and was called. The Turn brought a 7 – opponent checked, Richard bet, and was called. At this point Richard had him on a straight draw with either KJ or J9… The River was a 6, at which point the BB made a big bet! Richard thought it all through, trusted his instincts and called, and was rewarded when his opponent turned over his cards – KJ!

Reading skills... Richard Cowley

Reading skills… Richard Cowley

Side Events

It’s a testament to the MPN Poker Tour‘s snowballing presence that a host of side events proved so popular. This made for a truly varied ‘festival’ feel, with the two day Dublin Poker Cup, Irish Omaha Cup, Freezeout and even a Highroller event. More fun could be had in Midnight Hyper Turbos, an aptly named Monster Stack Mega Ante tournament, where the structure took some getting used to (well done Phill for finishing 5th) and – a teaser for those suffering with instant gratification issues – an All-in or Fold event!

Going to the Dogs…

There’s more to life than poker, and part of the attraction when trying to qualify for events on the MPN Poker Tour is the prospect of visiting different places around the globe and enjoying what the likes of Dublin has to offer. As well as the usual attractions – Temple Bar, Grafton Street… Guinness – we thought our players might like a night out with a difference, so we invited #Team32Red to a special night of dining & thrills at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium.

Team 32Red... a great night at Shelbourne Greyhounds

Team 32Red… a great night at Shelbourne Greyhounds

This was a new experience for many, but one that might well be repeated, as the excellent grandstand restaurant provided great food, a great view of the races and even an at-the-table betting service. When Angus Dunnington returned from the kiosk with his winnings after forecasting 1st and 2nd in the first two races, his partner, Carole, ‘sensibly’ removed the notes from his hand and left only the change to play with. However, like everyone else, she soon got the bug, and even managed a 1st, 2nd & 3rd place forecast.

Angus & Carole with another winning ticket

Angus & Carole with another winning ticket

A good night was had by all, and we intend to repeat the fun with #Team32Red at the next MPN Poker Tour stop, Vienna

 

Next Stop Vienna!

The Main Event in Vienna will be held at the Montesino Casino, 21-24 January 2016 and, once again, you can qualify for a €1,500 package and €550 seat via 32Red Poker‘s extensive satellites set-up. It’s so bankroll-friendly, in fact, that you can start your quest for the home of Sigmund Freud and wiener schnitzel for 25 cents!

Find out more

 

See MPNPT Tbilisi’15, MPNPT Tallinn’15, Battle of Malta’13, WSM Prague’12

MPN Poker Tour Tbilisi Report

 

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May 28-31, 2015

Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, played host to the latest leg of the successful MPN Poker Tour, with the €500 buy-in Main Event promising a guarantee of a cool €250,000 to those who made their way to this historic city.

Legend has it that in the 5th century King Vakhtang Gorgasali went hunting and shot a pheasant, which fell into a warm spring, and he was thus inspired to found a city right there, the name coming from the Georgian word tbili, meaning warm.

Our 32Red Poker qualifiers certainly found a warm welcome after taking the trip from the airport, down George W. Bush Avenue(!), and into the city. Read on for a players’ eye view of ‘live’ festival poker…

Day 1a

Day 1A attracted a total of 387 entries for the $550 Main Event, all well hosted at the Sports Palace in May Square. As play got under way and the live blog kicked off, various questions were asked from those following proceedings who had not managed to win their way into this big money festival. One such enthusiast, clearly a fight fan, asked for confirmation that champion UFC fighter Nick Diaz was in Tbilisi for the event… in fact he wasn’t, rather his no less worthy namesake Nick Diaz, 32Red Poker Manager, was in town (and meaning business)…

Those who had earned a place in Georgia, and were enjoying as part of their €1,500 packages the hospitality of the Holiday Inn, were ready to play…

32Red Poker Qualifiers – Day 1a

Vladimir Pastushenko (DNIPRO2010)

Vladimir Pastushenko (DNIPRO2010)

Vladimir Pastushenko (Ukraine), aka DNIPRO2010, is no stranger to the MPN Poker Tour, having previously played in the Tallinn leg. This time he qualified via our MPNPT March Madness event.

Vladimir didn’t have much luck this time around, as the following hand demonstrates. Dealt 10, 10, he was more than happy to see a flop of 10, J, 4 … but the inner smile will have diminished when the Turn and River brought 9 and 8, and then disappeared completely after losing the pot to an opponent holding Q, J! He later busted out when his nut flush ran into a rivered full house. C’est la vie.

Dimitri Tsereteli, who online goes by the name didro8888, qualified via one of our many satellites, and has the experience of participating in four live events. He had positive thoughts regarding the festival as a whole, and this despite busting out of the event after seeing his aces losing to 4, 7!

Mikhail Logvinenko (Samopomi4)

Mikhail Logvinenko (Samopomi4)

Mikhail Logvinenko, aka Samopomi4, is a freeroll fanatic and qualified in one of our Saturday Surprise tournaments. His key musings were that Tbilisi is a beautiful city, and that the tournament had a good blind structure – these thoughts were no doubt reinforced by his being the only surviving 32Red player from Day 1a…

Day 1b

The Main Event prize fund, which had been guaranteed at $250,000, now promised a massive $306,350, thanks to the sheer volume of entries and the fact that this was a ‘no fee’ event, with the whole of the $550 buy-in going into the prize pool!

Thus the Main Event payouts list was as follows:

POSITION PRIZE
1st $65,221
2nd $45,695
3rd $29,390
4th $21,740
5th $16,305
6th $13,085
7th $10,870
8th $8,689
9th $6,542
10th-12th $4,798
13th-15th $3,892
16th-18th $3,355
19th-21st $2,919
22nd-24th $2,617
25th-27th $2,315
28th-36th $2,013
37th-45th $1,745
46th-54th $1,476
55th-63rd $1,241

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32Red Poker Qualifiers – Day 1b

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Phillip Huxley (rixdorf)

Phillip Huxley, aka rixdorf, was a PocketFives package winner and is a seasoned player with plenty of hours spent at countless poker tables around the globe. After busting out on Day 1a he dusted himself off and rebought into Day 1b, without success.

Meanwhile, Phillip also chose a memorable hand from which he withdrew: “…in the side event I bet the KT6 Flop with KQ and there was a raise and then a shove, so I felt pretty certain I was behind. It turned out to be straight and flush draws, and Q-high ended up scooping a huge pot…”

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Nicolae-Alexandru Preda (aka all3css11)

Nicolae-Alexandru Preda (aka all3css11) started, and exited, on Day 1b, as did his brother, Andrei, who was adopted by the 32Red Poker squad and who, unfortunately, suffered the same fate. Starting his qualifying quest in a freeroll, ‘all3css11’ won a €80 ticket and parlayed this to winning a package final. He has played in more than 10 such international festivals. It’s interesting that, when asked about a memorable hand, one that stayed with him was an instructive example that isn’t typical of tournament reports. Having being dealt pocket aces and opening the betting he took with him a single caller to the Flop, which came 7h, 8s, 5h. He made a continuation bet, was called, and the Turn brought the 9h. Another bet, another call … River 5c and after an understandable check he was put all-in, at which point he folded. Fastforward… all-in very short-stacked with 77, called by one of two limpers on K, 10 and the Turn threw up a 10 and that was that.

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Ronald Alino (Lil_J)

Quite a few 32Red Poker regulars will have sat at the same virtual table as lil_J over the years. His real name is Ronald Alino and he hails from Canada. Perhaps surprisingly for such a ‘veteran’ this was his first ‘live’ poker event, having won his place for a mere €5 or so in a 32Red Poker exclusive €1 rebuy satellite.

A ‘funny’ hand that Ronald wasn’t in saw A8 all-in against a short-stacked JJ. When the Flop brought AKx the latter stood up and was, of course, ready to leave… Turn J … River J!

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Timo Rissanen (marrikkassi)

Timo Rissanen, aka marrikkassi, is another player for whom an international poker festival is new territory. His successful qualifying quest for the €1,500 package began with a tournament that cost a mere €11!  He was pleasantly surprised by the city and enjoyed the hotel. Alas he busted out when two pairs ran into a bigger pair…

Day 2

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Mikhail Logvinenko (Samopomi4)

Mikhail Logvinenko had cut his path through the jungle that was Day 1a to emerge with 162,000 chips, and he continued his good form to make the money, pocketing over $1,000!

Photo Gallery

 

Let’s leave the last words to Phillip Huxley: “It’s great that the tour took a risk to come to such a new unusual place. Feel very lucky to get the chance to come here as I probably never would have visited otherwise. Well done on looking after your players and introducing them to each other. A lot of sites don’t seem to make any efforts with online qualifiers any more, so the efforts of you and 32Red are very welcome, thanks!”

It was a pleasure, Phillip – see you soon on the MPN Poker Tour

 

Qualify for the MPN Poker Tour in Dublin, Ireland (2-6 September)

MPNPT Tallinn 2015

Once known as Big Red Castle, it’s not surprising to learn that Tallinn, Estonia’s picturesque capital, is a favourite among tourists looking for a bit of history that’s easy on the eye. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was a European Capital of Culture in 2011. Sounds a great place to visit, and thus a perfect venue for the third leg of the MPN Poker Tour, which took place January 15-18, 2015 at the Olympic Casino Olümpia.

Medieval Old Town in Tallinn

Winning a package via 32Red Poker is a perfect way to experience a live poker festival, and our players had the added bonus that the casino, a very well respected poker venue, is part of the luxurious Radisson Blu Olümpia hotel, where they stayed.

Day 1

The Main Event was a €500 + €50 No Limit Hold’em tournament with a €40,000 guaranteed prize fund. The combination of a decent structure (25,000 starting chips, 60-minute levels), late registration and unlimited re-entries during the first six levels made for some interesting poker and some awkward decisions.

Having collected their free chips to use at the tables, drinks vouchers and a free sports bet given away by the casino upon joining, Angus Dunnington (Scotland), Simon Taylor, Bruce Shannon (England), LeoLeou (Northern Ireland) and Vladimir Pastushenko (Ukraine) took their seats in the tournament room. Note that, ultimately, 122 players actually entered and, with 26 re-entries, this made for an effective total of 148 entries, thus generating a prize pool of over €70,000 for the top 12 places, with over €20,000 for the winner… well worth playing for.

Vladimir Pastushenko

Vladimir Pastushenko

There was also the added incentive of making an impression in the MPN Poker Tour Player of the Year, which offers as a fantastic first prize free entry to all of the MPNPT Main Events in 2016 (plus a unique trophy).

Angus got off to a decent start but the late arrival of a talkative, dominating Swede to his left seriously cramped his style. He eventually made his exit just before the end of the play for the day when, finding aces for the very first time in the tournament, he got it all in but ran up against a bigger stack’s 555. Meanwhile, the structure might have been welcomed by some, but LeoLeou coped with what he perceived to be the tedium by turning to his iPad for entertainment. This might not necessarily be recommended strategy, but whatever works, and he managed to find a path through the jungle to end Day 1 with 17,900 chips, a little behind Simon’s 23,600 but out of touch with chips leader Revo Rink, who was already racing off into the distance with a stack of 215,000!

Angus Dunnington

Angus Dunnington

Day 2

In terms of the Main Event, fortune didn’t shine on our players today. As the blinds increase the significance and implications of taking a hit – or even failing to keep your head sufficiently above water to afford much-needed breathing space and flexibility – can grow conspicuously problematic, even with the tournament’s player-friendly structure.

Simon Taylor

Simon Taylor

With good opportunities difficult to come by, any ‘decent’ looking hand assumes far greater importance than would normally be the case, while premium holdings are like gold dust. Simon Taylor found himself with KK but, unfortunately, ran into a pair of ace. Coincidences tend to be more memorable when associated with good or bad fortune and, for Simon, it was the latter, as he’d exited the event in the same manner as his fellow 32Red Poker player, good friend and roommate in Tallinn, Bruce Shannon…

Bruce Shannon

Bruce Shannon, aka BigShann

Meanwhile, LeoLeou was still battling away or, in his words: ‘Hand dead at new table. Going to get blinded out’ – which was a more practical assessment of his chances than a show of pessimism, as anyone who has spent time with the likeable player will confirm. Later he was ‘still hanging on’ with around 50K in chips when the average was 95K and, eventually, after 3-betting a big stack with 88 and shoving a 10, 10, 2 flop, he had come up against A, 10 and the 32Red Poker assault on the Main Event had finally come to an end.

The players met up in the Old Town, which is well worth a visit, the plan being to recharge the poker batteries and try their luck in Event 4 on Day 3. Ukraine’s Vladimir Pastushenko had other ideas. He had already made up for exiting the Main Event by taking 2nd place in the 24-player €135 + €15 NLH tournament, and today he made another final table in the €110 + €10 NLH, finishing in 6th place – all the more impressive considering there 105 players this time around.

Day 3

Our players, suitably refreshed, sat down for the €135 + €15 NLH ‘Big Night Out’ event. This was a sort of quasi freezeout with re-starts available during the early levels which, unlike the 60-minute blind levels in the Main Event, were this time only 20 minutes.

At one table, Angus Dunnington, Bruce Shannon and Vladimir Pastushenko were all next to each other. Bruce got off to a flying start, re-raising a player on the steal more than once, making a nice (check-) call on the river with a not very attractive but ‘strong’ enough hand and, even taking into account a bit of inevitable bad luck, deservedly built a hefty looking stack. Unfortunately a series of big pots highlighted how quickly the proverbial wheels can come off the poker train as it hurtles along, and his disappointment will have been heightened by the fact he lost out to players whose understanding of the game doesn’t approach his. That, of course, is one of the occupational hazards of poker, but it always feels particularly cruel nonetheless.

MPNPT Tallinn (Estonia)

MPNPT Tallinn (Estonia)

Angus felt he didn’t seem to get going, yet Bruce’s exit ironically coincided with his recovery. After barely waking up for much of the tournament he was suddenly able to take advantage of his hitherto dormant table image. All good things come to an end, as they say and, as he was starting to finally move up gears, his Q-high straight came up against a K-high straight.

The 32Red Poker presence did continue, though, with LeoLeou finishing in 5th place in the 59-player tournament.

LeoLeou

The last poker fix came in the form of the €50 + €5 Pot Limit Omaha which, with only 39 entries, paid out just five spots. While most of the players were relaxing and thinking of their flight home and the next quest, the indefatigable Simon Taylor took 5th place.

 

Tallinn is a nice place for a poker festival and our players enjoyed their time both exploring what the city has to offer (Can-Can dancers at the casino proved to be a popular, albeit unexpected form of entertainment, but it’s the picturesque capital itself that lives up to its expectations) and the poker itself (although the frustrating nature of poker means some enjoyed it more than others).

As for the festival, the numbers proved quite encouraging in the context of the MPN Poker Tour, with the 148 Main Event entries here – after 109 in Malta and 89 in London, translating to official first prizes of €20,387 in Tallinn, €15,330 in Malta and €9,465 in London – showing how the tour is going from strength to strength.

Battle Of Malta 2013

The island may be tiny but it ended up hosting a big poker game!

The Battle of Malta tournament got off to a great start at the Portomaso Casino, with the number of entries meaning that the final prize fund more than doubled the originally advertised guarantee of €200,000.  Poker remains a massively popular draw, and Malta was a great place to host such an event.

32Red Poker‘s interest was in the form of qualifiers Cornelia Lupu (Romania), Dimitar Dimitrov (Bulgaria), Szabolcs Szigeti (Hungary), Roger Deans (UK) and Marko Vukic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)…

A bit about Malta

Thanks to its location, the tiny island of Malta has for a long time been important strategically, with the Romans, Arabs, the Knights of St John, French and the British being amongst the numerous powers who have ruled over the years. Having being admitted to the United Nations in 1964 (the same year it began independence from the UK), Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and, being a very popular tourist destination, is sure to be a fun poker venue.

Malta is plumb in the middle of the Mediterranean.

Malta is plumb in the middle of the Mediterranean.

 

The Venue

Having already hosted the World Poker Tour and other such high tournaments, the Portomaso Casino’s reputation precedes it as an excellent poker venue. Apart from having the biggest poker room in the country, the hotel is also well placed for players to relax both during and after their time battling away for survival.

The picturesque Portomaso Casino (tower)

The picturesque Portomaso Casino (tower)

 

Calendar of Events

Thursday, September 26
9am Players started to arrive at Malta Luga Airport and were transferred to their respective hotels.
2pm Main Event (€500+€50), Day 1A.
8pm Satellites to BOM 2013. Buy in €50 + €5
10pm Opening reception for package holders.
Friday, September 27
2pm Main Event (€500+€50), Day 1B.
Saturday, September 28
1pm Main Event, Day 2. Location: Portomaso Casino.
6pm Siege of Malta “Second Chance” Tournament (€100+€10), Day 1.
11pm Official BOM Party opens its doors.
Sunday, September 29
2pm Main Event, Day 3 and Final Table.

 

Tournament Structure

Claiming a player-friendly structure, the organisers were satisfied that the 20,000 chip strong starting stacks and 60-minute blind levels provided the participants with a nicely balanced tournament structure over the four days’ play.

Tournament Structure, Starting Stack: 20,000 Chips

Tournament Structure (20,000 Chips)

 

Battle Of Malta – Day 1a

Day 1a saw 417 players battling it out for fame and fortune, an impressive number given that the previous year’s tournament had a total of 349 players in total. 110 of them managed to survive the opening day, but, unfortunately, Dimitar was not one of them.

Dimitar Dimitrov, Day 1A

Dimitar Dimitrov, Day 1A

“I made it to 55k chips, but in a hand with AKo I 3bet an agresive player … I had position and the flop came QJ3, he checked and I decided to check after him.  A 7 came on the turn and he made about 2/3 pot bet. I almost folded but a voice inside my head said “call him – he’s bluffing!” I called thinking that all AK and 10 was good for me plus I also had a chance to catch him on a bluff. The river card was an Ace and he went all in for about 8k. I called and saw 77 in the hand and so I dropped to about 30k. After that I lost about 15k with a good starting hand but nothing on the flop … I pushed with 44  on my last hand.”

– Dimitar Dimitrov

Opening Party

The Opening Party was held at the luxurious Villa Rosa Palace in St. Julians, Malta, where we all got a chance to relax and meet other players. While a local DJ kept us entertained with the latest in dance music, friendly waitresses kept our glasses full with free champagne!