MPNPT Malta’17: Team32Red Report

May 14, 2017 by  
Filed under News

Malta Report Cover Image

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!

MPNPT Vienna: Team32Red Report

February 6, 2017 by  
Filed under News

MPN_588x300

 

The Venue

Vienna is a fantastic city, so it won’t have come as a surprise to many that the MPN chose to return to the Austrian capital for the Tour’s first venue of 2017 – another reason, of course, being the fact that the city is a well respected poker venue.

Back in January 1981, Ultravox released the song ‘Vienna’ which, over 30 years later, was judged in a poll to be the greatest song never to reach the top of the UK charts, having been prevented from the coveted No.1 spot by a novelty song entitled ‘Shaddap You Face’… Much of the atmospheric video was shot in London, with the band visiting Vienna only for a day, dashing around the city by taxi with the help of a guide book.

Fortunately for those players who qualified for Vienna by playing at 32Red, as well as the €550 buy-in, their €1,500 package included four nights in a hotel in the trendy Gasometer district. This was literally round the corner from the Montesino Casino – a specialist poker venue that the players were impressed with last year – and just a few stops from the heart of Vienna. So, playing MPNPT Vienna gave Team32Red players plenty of time to see one of the world’s most culture-laden cities, not forgetting the abundance of food and drink that Vienna has to offer. One such is the famous Wiener Schnitzel which, apparently, is made only from veal and no other meat, as dictated and protected by Austrian law! That’s a bit of trivia you can impress people with at the dinner/poker table, as is the fact that the founder of the German sports car company, Porsche, was the Austrian Ferdinand Porsche, who also designed the Volkswagen…

 

The Poker: Part 1

Poker enjoys varying degrees of popularity around the globe, so it stands to reason that some venues will attract more players than others. No surprise, then, that Vienna (Austria, in fact) – which is also a relatively easy destination from many European destinations – is always going to guarantee a certain number of entries.

The field on Day 1a tends to have a higher ratio of ‘locals’ to foreigners, mainly due to the fact that players from other countries don’t arrive early enough. There’s also the matter of the MPNPT Players’ Party, which takes place on the night of Day 1a and has become increasingly popular to the point of being unmissable (see below).

Despite the fact that most of Team32Red would be joining the fray on Day 1b, a few jumped straight into battle. As it turned out it was quality over quantity in terms of 32Red making a statement of presence, because emerging as the opening day chip leader was 32Red debutant, Artur Yarovoy, of Russia, who set off like the Usain Bolt of poker and never looked back, his stack after what seemed like 13 increasingly long levels transformed to over 10 times the initial 25,000! To better put this in perspective, some of the 49 who survived to Day 2 had barely increased their chip count.

One might be foolish to bet against Irish tournament specialists David Lappin and Dara O’Kearney keeping their respective heads above water, and they managed fine with 142,000 and 69,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, Phill Huxley – who, almost reluctantly, goes by the name The Huxinator – was riding along on the roller-coaster that is tournament poker on the proverbial seat of his pants. Thusly, with play about to come to an end for the day, and looking at the same amount of chips with which he’d started many hours earlier, he chanced his arm by pushing everything over the line with A4. The bad news was his being called by JJ. The good news was an ace appearing, doubling up the Huxinator at the expense of an opponent who, it’s fair to say, wasn’t afraid to show his frustration.

Finally, Angus Dunnington was involved in a very complex family pot where by far the biggest prize was the side-pot between himself and one of the other three players. He regretted not fully committing as soon as he’d made his play and, sure enough, won the ‘nowhere near big enough’ side-pot, insult being added to injury when he was on course to pocket all of the booty until the river card helped one small(er) stack leapfrog him to two pair (all-in with Q7…) and the other fill a straight. A later all-in brought him all the way down to a few thousand, but he rallied to scrape through to Day 2 with 32,000 chips.

This description is by no means untypical of how things can go in a tournament like this – fortune comes and goes, the ‘accuracy’ of a decision can be problematic to weigh up while contemplating your next move and, not surprisingly (given those pesky unknowns that poker is littered with), virtually the same path can lead to the next stage or the exit…

 

The Party

Originally, the MPNPT party might have attracted a few players happy to turn up for a quarter of an hour or so for a few free drinks and snacks. Things have changed, and it’s indicative of the Tour’s success that the party, henceforth known as The Party, is now an event in itself, and something players don’t want to miss.

This time the venue was the bowling alley a couple of floors down from the casino. A lot of players turned up, including the Team32Red contingent, and the evening’s entertainment was, of course, ten-pin bowling. Remember that we’re talking poker players here, so it wasn’t going to be a simple case of it being ‘the taking part that counts’ – there had to be something to win! And indeed there was, the prizes well worth winning, in fact. Having already won a €550 Main Event ticket in a satellite at the casino, 32Red and MPN Tour regular, Bruce Shannon, continued at the bowling alley where he’d left off at the poker table – a winner. This time he was the recipient of a €200 MPNPT ticket, while Simon Millard and Joel Holmberg won tickets for €80 and €22.

 

The Poker: Part 2

A number of our players tried their luck in the €20,000 guaranteed Austria Poker Cup, with Norway’s Knut Berntsen earning €580 for finishing in 11th place, and Peter Raynor €310 for 22nd.

Dara continued his good run in the High Roller event, reaching the final three places of this €1,100 buy-in tournament to find that, rather bizarrely, the remaining protagonists he was up against were a couple. Chopping seemed like an appropriate end, and the tournament specialist added another juicy prize to his long list of accolades.

Meanwhile, only Joel Holmberg (140,700) and Michal Jurgielewicz (84,100) survived Day 1b – both would at least enjoy some success during the festival… With just short of 550 entries it was never going to be easy making the money, and the play became predictably tense as the bubble approached, followed by the equally predictable collective sigh of relief for those who managed to finish among the 62 paid places. Our Team32Red players who emerged from the battle with a cash were:

Michal Jurgielewicz (Poland; 20th) €1,750
David Lappin (Ireland; 27th) €1,750
Mario Sánchez (Spain; 36th) €1,550
Angus Dunnington (England; 54th) €1,230

 

(Irish) Sausages

Stick an Irish pub on the moon and it could well start attracting clients (when that finally happens, remember that you first saw the idea here…). People from around the globe seem to gravitate to Irish pubs wherever they may be, and Vienna is no exception. Continuing the theme, a cosmopolitan bunch of Team32Red players spent Saturday night at one such convivial establishment. Young people in Vienna are bestowed certain rights earlier than many of their European counterparts. Ironically they can vote in elections at 16 and, bizarrely, can also drink at 16 yet not receive a driver’s license until 18 (at least this should mean there’s not a drink-driving problem for Austrian teens…). The average age at this particular Irish bar probably increased a little when our players turned up, but a good time was had by all, including Declan ‘Deccy’ Rice being able to order genuine Irish sausages – you could be forgiven for thinking that a sausage is a sausage, but you’d be wrong, as it happens. Perhaps a possible way to rattle Deccy at the poker table would be to bring this subject up, although he has a great sense of humour and the quickest wit, so it may well backfire… A few of this group didn’t let the time prevent them from forgoing sleep for a return to the casino, making their presence felt at the tables, including a strange Hold’em themed game that seemed to have a mysteriously player-unfriendly house edge…

IMG_7984

Poker: Final Day

So it was that, after a grueling two days, the Main Event renewed on Sunday, and the seemingly unstoppable Artur Yaravoy showed that his initial success certainly wasn’t a fluke – the wily Russian had ended Day 2 second of the 14 remaining contenders, with a 1,883,000 stack! He eventually exited the tournament in 5th place after pushing with A7 and losing to Kilian Kramer (who would go on to win the event’s top prize of €50,000) who called with KQ and made a straight. Artur had won €13,960 – perhaps now is a good time to point out that he won a €1,500 package for Vienna by hitting a royal flush in the €3 buy-in Flush Royale, our exclusive nightly tournament that is great fun, has a €500 guaranteed prize pool and is responsible for sending a lot of players to MPN Tour events simply because they made a royal flush!

Final-Table-Replay

IMG_2408

Doubles & Hyper Turbo

One last snippet of Team32Red results: Julie Whitworth and the aforementioned Peter Raynor won €435 for finishing 3rd in the Doubles event, which saw players take it in turns to play a single stack. This is easier said than done, by the way, as it’s difficult to find a balance between playing your natural style and feeling responsible for your team-mate, too. Finnish duo Joel Holmberg and Teemu Toikkanen each won €120 for placing 6th.

Finally, well done Keith Cummins of Ireland who trousered a tidy €900 for finishing runner-up in the €50+10 No Limit Hold’em Hyper Turbo!

Memorable Hand: Friends & Poker

Many players find it awkward playing at the same table as their friends. Knowing exactly how it feels to lose makes you more conscious of the potential significance of a pot in which you’re involved with a friend, and it’s difficult to not experience some level of distraction.

Here’s Phill Huxley describing a crucial heads-up hand with his friend, Angus Dunnington:

‘32Red Ambassador Angus Dunnington was moved to my table at the very beginning of day two. He’d already doubled up and the first hand he played he ran a very big river bluff when his straight and flush draws missed. His opponent folded and he showed the bluff, much to the consternation of the other player. I’d always thought of Angus as a pretty tight player but I now saw him in a new light.

A couple of hands later I opened with pocket aces from middle position (first time I had aces the whole tournament) and Angus defended from the big blind. Flop was 779. Angus checked and, somewhat wary of his new ‘wildman’ image after that big bluff, I decided to check behind. The turn was a ten, bringing a flush draw, and Angus led out with a large bet. I certainly couldn’t fold here, calling seemed like the only play. The river was very innocuous – all the draws had missed and Angus asked how much I had behind. I showed him my stack and he put me all in. 32Red on 32Red violence!

Maybe, just maybe, if I hadn’t seen that bluff directly before I would have found a fold as I’d always considered Angus as a tighter, more solid player. But now… against ‘Crazy Angus’ after his big bluff I just couldn’t let it go. After thinking for about two minutes I called. Angus exhaled, shook his head and looked like someone had just run over his cat. In my head I was fist-pumping, thinking “Yes! I caught him bluffing” – sadly it was not the case and he turned over 79 for a flopped full house. Angus was genuinely upset that he busted me and apologised many times. I almost felt bad!’

IMG_7958

C’est la vie, as they say. We’ll let Phill’s final comment on the event sum up the general thoughts of 32Red players:

‘…I have to say that it is refreshing the way 32Red treats its qualifiers. Not only trying their best to give them a good experience on and off the tables, but also fostering a team spirit and helping to build friendships and friendly and fun rivalries between the players. Certainly noticeably better than experiences of qualifying for tournaments with so-called bigger sites. It really makes a difference and also stokes my enthusiasm for playing more on 32Red in general’

So there you have it – another successful MPN Tour stop, and another Main Event which saw the guaranteed prize pool increase due to its popularity with players. The next stop is Malta, April 27-30 and, as always, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to qualify at 32Red. Good luck, have fun, and we hope to see you in the sun!

3

Check out our upcoming live poker events