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Battle of Malta Runner-Up Brincat Eyes Bigger Poker Future
Alan Brincat was as close to being the first local to win the Battle of Malta title as you can be.
In the end - and we mean the absolute end - Brincat finished as the runner-up because he had a smaller stack than his opponent Antoan Katsarov when the tournament had to be stopped per casino regulations.
If he had a bit more time, Brincat says, the story might be slightly different:
“I was catching up to him," Brincat says in a follow-up interview at the PokerListings office a few days later.
“I think he was a little scared, but I would have needed more time. At one point during the heads-up he folded K-Q pre-flop, so I knew he didn’t really want to play anymore.
"I changed my strategy to playing more post-flop to force him to get involved in hands, but in the end I didn’t get there.”
Gaming Industry Vet Knows What to Look For
In real life Brincat works as an Operations Manager at Quasar Gaming, a Maltese gaming company that, among other games, features Novomatic content.
He’s also worked for Everest Poker, where he was responsible for detecting fraud like collusion and chip-dumping.
“Of course there are tools that help you," Brincat says, "but there are also patterns of behavior that you can spot and that are suspicious.
"For example, if someone is losing an unusual amount of money to another player in a relatively short time. And if, for example, both players come from the same country or have the same IP address, there might be something wrong.
"Safety is about the most important thing for a poker provider.”
As his background indicates, Brincat is no poker newbie. He’s been playing for about 10 years, mostly in home games.
“But I’ve played several live tournaments too," he adds.
None have been close to the size of the 2014 Battle of Malta.
"I played last year as well, but I never made the money. Also, I spent a lot of time queueing. This year it was better.”
"Sad to See Someone You Like Busted"
Given the massive field this year (1,447 entries - a Maltese record) and a mid-tourney boost to 60-minute levels, play stretched well into the early hours each day.
In the end, the "battle" part of the Battle of Malta was a very apt moniker.
“Yes, I know, and I’ve been there to the very last hand. I played on Day 1B so I had over 40 hours of poker within three days.
"The tournament was great, though, despite the long hours. I enjoyed the last day the most. Well, obviously.
"Still, even so all of us players were getting tired, it also became more competitive, and while it became more competitive, it also became more social and more fun.
"It got to a point where you would be almost sad when someone who you liked busted. Of course, you would never show that, but then hey, we’re only human."
With 12 players left after the dinner break on Day 3 the Tournament Director gave players the choice of stopping at 9 players or playing until the 5 am hard stop required by law.
Should the tournament still be going play would be halted and the chips would decide the winner. Players unanimously decided to play on.
"I think that some people were a little disappointed about the ending of the tournament, there not being a final hand with all the chips in the middle.
"On the other hand, I understand that we had to stop it at one point. Personally, I didn’t care if we came back to finish it on Monday.
"But I was the only local and everybody else had early flights with connections, so I didn’t interfere with the discussion. It would have been a little unfair.”
Definite Plans for More Live Tournaments, EPT Malta
As we're doing our interview with Brincat in the PokerListings Malta office a colleague from Malta’s largest newspaper, Malta Today, also arrives to get a word from the local hero.
It looks like Alan Brincat is becoming a local celebrity - something he's not about to shy away from.
“Yes," he says with a big grin. “And to live up to my reputation I want to play more live tournaments in the future.
"I will be in Paris next month (for a WPT National event), and I will definitely play the EPT Malta next March.”
Does Brincat have any worries about a tournament like an EPT main event with its myraid pros and higher-stakes hurdles? Not that he lets on.
“Although I didn’t have any of BOM's celebrity players at my table, I’m pretty sure I can handle it.
"Mind you, I would have really liked to have Maria Ho or Sofia Lövgren at my table.”