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The PokerListings Battle of Malta is over and BOM host Kara Scott is signing off with a full video recap of all the action. Kara gives us an inside look at the week's highlights including interview clips with Dan "Jungleman" Cates, American freeroller Don Ford and BOM champion Nicodemo Piccolo.
Kara: Over the last four days, the first ever Battle of Malta played out at the Portomaso Casino in Saint Julian. And I can't think of a better destination to rest, relax, and play some poker. Over the course of 2 day, 1 flight 349 players bought-in, crushing the 150K guarantee and putting almost €175,000 into the pot. And it was a re-entry, so who busted on Day 1A had a chance to come back and fire a second bullet. The idea behind the Battle of Malta was simple. Give people from all over the world the chance to play poker in a beautiful destination, and do it with a buy-in that would allow players of all levels to get in on the action. We even got a couple of free roll qualifiers all the way from the United States, and we were happy to give them their first taste of European hospitality. Don Ford managed to come here at the very last second to play the Battle of Malta, all the way from southern Illinois. You told me you got in like 10 minutes before it started today? Don: That's right. My flight got in a little bit less than an hour. Got from the airport to the hotel and here to the casino and got here with about five minutes to spare. So I was happy to get there for that first hand. Kara: And a friend of yours actually won the seat, right? But his wife was really pregnant. He wasn't able to use it. Tell us the story. Don: That's right. My friend, Michael, actually won the seat and his wife is very pregnant, so he transferred it to me and it was kind of a last minute thing. I arranged the flight and got here. So, I was very thankful for him to actually think of me, to send this to me, and really glad to be here. Kara: But if you think the level of play at the Battle of Malta was low, you'd be mistaken. Big names like France's Gaelle Baumann, Germany's Johannes Strassmann, and Belgium's Pierre Neuville, all took their seats. But it was high stakes online legend, Dan Jungleman Cates who was the real headliner. Hello. I am Kara Scot here, at the Battle of Malta and I have Dan Jungleman Cates here with me, who is actually playing at this event, which is great. It was amazing to see you come down here and play this. You've played online 500, 1,000. So the buy-in here is basically a small blind. What's it like to play at this level? Dan: It's interesting. You can tell like some subtle differences between this tournament and, say, a tournament at an EPT like a $5,000 buy-in, or whatever. I decided to play partly because...well, I know some people. I know some people here and I also have never actually been to Malta. So, I thought, "What the hell? Why not come here and see the island and play a tournament in the meantime?" Kara: Everyone fought hard for a spot in the money. But luckily for those who came up short, there's a lot more going on at the Battle of Malta than just poker. On Friday night, after a hard day at the tables, we hit Level 22, at the top of the Hilton Tower, for the VIP party. But it wasn't all fun and games. By Saturday afternoon we were down to the 45 players who got paid, and by Sunday we hit the final table. One by one, the final nine fell until there was just Giulio Astarita and Nicodemo Piccolo going heads up for the title. Astarita fought hard, but it wasn't enough. Piccolo earned every penny of the €35,000 first place price, and we were proud to crown him the first ever Battle of Malta Champion. What does it feel like to take home not just a title, a trophy and €35,000? Nicodemo: I'm very happy and very relaxed. I love the game. I used to play with friends and we used to play more than 72-hour sessions at a time. Kara: Do you have any special plans for the money? Nicodemo: I'll just keep playing more poker tournaments. Kara: I think he is rolling it right back to another tournament. So good luck in those and congratulations again. Our first ever champion for the Battle of Malta. That's it for us. We have had a blast. And on the behalf of pokerlistings.com, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the first ever Battle of Malta. We'll see you next time.