MPNPT Malta’17: Team32Red Report
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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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!