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The second-annual PokerListings Battle of Malta is up and running and in just one starting day it has already surpassed the €200,000 guarantee. Over 400 players bought in on Day 1A and among them was an eclectic mix of professionals and amateurs. Our first daily highlight show explores why players are so excited to travel to Malta and features Battle of Malta host Kara Scott and her fiance Giovanni Rizzo, former EPT Champion Andreas Hoivold and excited recreational player Julio Velasquez. Keep an eye right here on PokerListings.com as we play down to the second ever Battle of Malta champion.
Kara: It's been a year since we've been here, so get ready for the Second Annual PokerListings Battle of Malta.
This room might be empty now, but in just a few minutes, it's going to be buzzing with hundreds of players, all gunning for the second Battle of Malta title.
Welcome everyone to the Second Annual Battle of Malta. I'm Kara Scott. And on behalf of PokerListings and all of our online partners, I want to say, thank you for joining us. We're here to play some poker, but we are also here to have some fun. So without any further ado, good luck to everyone. The blind starts at 25 and 50 and let's shuffle up and deal.
Last year, the first ever Battle of Malta got 349 players. Right now, it's only day 1A and we've already blown right past that number. In fact, we're on track to more than double the 200,000 Euro guarantee.
Players from all over the world won packages to come and play in the Battle of Malta. And for some of them, it's a real dream come true. Julio Velasquez won Satellite and came all the way from Costa Rica, and he's got an especially touching story.
Julio: I was told about the Satellite and Full Tilt 20 minutes before it started and then I took it down. It was crazy. I tripled up on the second hand. Then a buddy of mine started to work at my company and he gave me a bunch of miles to come here. So that dream came true basically.
Kara: And so you won your way here, why Malta, though? What prompted you to want to come to this place to play poker because it's far for you?
Julio: Well, I heard the tournament was really good last year. So I said like, "I'm gonna try my hand," and I heard the food is amazing. So far, Malta is amazing. People is great. The atmosphere, I just spent one hour floating at the Mediterranean Sea. It was amazing. The place is amazing, I love it.
Kara: I'd love to see you at the final table. I'm hoping to see you there as I'm sitting there too. I'm going to try and make it so good luck out there.
Julio: Thank you, thank you so much and I just want to say hi to my son. He is turning two months old tomorrow, so I hope I can bring the title back home and celebrate.
Kara: And it's not just amateurs playing here at the Battle of Malta. Some big-name pros are here too. Dan "Jungleman" Cates, Pierre Neuville, and former EPT champion, Andreas Hoivold, are all taking a shot at the Battle of Malta title. And for the big pros, it's a nice change of pace to be playing a lower buy-in event.
Andreas: I like the weather here, of course. I live in Las Vegas and we're used to a nice weather, but I love the ocean and I love the sun. So those two things are really good for me. And for me, I really like new places as well and I've never been here before, so I'm enjoying seeing different things that I'm not used to.
The thing is when you play bigger buy-in tournaments is that you have to take it super, super seriously. When I play tournaments like this, I relax a little bit more. Take combination of the education and playing poker. Of course, I want to win still and I'm going to play good poker. At least I'm going to try, but I also have a chance to do other things and it's different from busting from the main events. You have all the things you can do here, so I will have a good time no matter what happens here.
Kara: Most players came here for the poker or for the sun, but some players had other reasons for coming to the Battle of Malta.
Tell me why you came to the Battle of Malta besides the fact that obviously your fiance is hosting the event?
Giovanni: Well, we came here last year and it was a lot of fun. I like the environment here, I like how friendly it is, and it's nice. You have a change of pace plus I think we both love Malta a lot. So that's always a good spot to come back to.
Kara: It's true. I think after last year's Battle of Malta, we pretty much were thinking about moving here. Now, one of my biggest thing is I love the weather and it's just so relaxed here. And also for me, one of the big things was my favorite bar in the whole world is here. It's a reggae bar called Jewels [SP] and we even went there last night very briefly, didn't we?
Giovanni: She was there very briefly. I was there not so briefly so [inaudible 00:05:13] for today. It's a super cool bar. It's the bomb. It's my favorite bar in Europe, I believe.
Kara: Just one of two starting days is over here at the Battle of Malta, and we've already crushed the 200K guarantee. On day 1B, hundreds more players will be back at the [inaudible 00:05:33], including a few interesting characters. So join us tomorrow to find out what happens.