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Day 1B at the 2013 Battle of Malta is over and the final numbers are spectacular. 888 entries absolutely crushed the €200k guarantee, but that wasn't the only exciting thing happening at the Portomaso Casino. Naoya Kihara, Pierre Neuville and Luca Moschitta all received their PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards, and we caught the whole thing on camera.
Kara: Day 1B here at the Battle of Malta and with 888 entrants, we have more than doubled the €200,000 guarantee. But big crowds aren't the only thing happening. We are also proud to present the Spirit of Poker Awards.
So often in Poker, success and celebrity are measured in dollar amounts. But the reasons that we are so passionate about this game go far beyond just money. These awards celebrate the past, present, and future of the Poker world and the players who exemplify the true spirit of poker.
Today, we present awards in the three categories: Most Inspiring Player, This is 50+ and Here Comes the Future.
Our first player beat out huge names like Marvin Rettenmaier, Isaac Haxton, and Daniel Negreanu to take home the title of Most Inspiring Player. Since poker is illegal in his home country, he traveled to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker and became the first player from Japan to win a World Series Poker gold bracelet. He is also an accomplished online player who is passionate about breaking down the stereotypes that surround poker players as well as spreading the word that poker is a skill game that rewards hard work and dedication.
In honor of the person who's used his success to inspire a whole new country of poker players, it is my pleasure to give this award for the Most Inspiring Player to Naoya Kihara.
Naoya: Thank you so much for this award. I hope I can inspire a lot of people especially from Japan to the world. Thank you.
Kara: The second Spirit of Poker category celebrates poker's long history and heritage. Our winner beat out a long list of legends including Marcel Luske, Mike Sexton, and Thor Hansen by getting the most fan votes. He played in his first tournament in the 1960s and turned 70 while competing at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure early this year. He also proved that he can compete with the best online by qualifying for a record 23 consecutive EPTs through satellites Poker Stars.
In honor of the player who has proven that age has nothing to do with success at the poker table, it is my pleasure to give this award in the This is 50+ category to Pierre Neuville.
Pierre: What to say I am just the happiest player in the world. It is much better than to win a tournament. It is just to be recognized by all of you, the players, the press and the poker family.
Kara: Well, you are used to playing in a lot of bigger buy in events. You are here at the Battle of Malta which has a lot for recreational players. It's a smaller buy in, is there a different feeling here for you?
Pierre: No. When I sit down at a table, I just try to forget the buy in. I was playing the smallest buy in and some high rollers. I am just trying to forget about money to enjoy and to play the game. I just put in my mind it's never to late to win and just forget about the rest.
Kara: Well, congratulations on one win here today. Hopefully you have another with the Battle of Malta title. Thank you very much.
Piere: Thank you very much.
Kara: Our third and final award celebrate the players who will shape poker's future. Beating out a tough cast of nominees, our winner has already shown that he will be counted among the best of poker's new generation. He was one of the youngest players ever to reach Supernova Elite status on PokerStars and he has already clinched a title on the Italian Poker Tour.
In honor of a player who help poker meet it's full potential, we are proud to present this award in the Here Comes the Future category to Italy's Luca Moschitta.
Luca: Hey, Kara. Thank you very much. This is very much for me. This prize is huge. It's a big honor for me.
Kara: There are a lot of Italian players here at the Battle of Malta. It's close to Italy coming to Malta, but what brought you here?
Luca: I am playing Malta first of all because I live really close to Malta. I live in Catania. It's 20 minutes by flight. It's very comfortable to come here. Also it's a very good tournament. It's 800 players. Even if the buy in is so low, it would be a very big prize for the first. It will be a lot of money. I used to play tournaments for its value. The value is the most important thing for a live tournaments poker player.
Kara: Well, congratulations on one award and hopefully the Battle of Malta title too. Thanks very much.
Today the Portomaso Casino was a madhouse. Tomorrow the survivors will return to fight it out for a piece of well over €400,000. Join us tomorrow on Poker Listings to find out what happens.