How has the Battle of Malta come so far in such a short time? Here’s where to find out with our complete history of the Battle of Malta including:
- Summaries of every event since 2012
- Complete list of past winners and prize pools
- Special Battle of Malta interviews, recaps and feature stories
Battle of Malta (BoM) Poker Festival
Back in 2012 the Battle of Malta began as just a single, 349-player freezeout in the basement of the Portomaso Casino in St. Julian’s, Malta. Today the Battle of Malta is a 9-event, multi-million Euro poker festival at Casino Malta that’s a fixture on the European poker circuit and a must-play stop for thousands of recreational and professional poker players from around the globe.
After nearly a three-year break, The Battle of Malta returned with a bang featuring dozens of events at Casino Malta by Olympic Casino and the adjoining InterContinental Hotel.
The Main Event was a smashing success with 2,592 entries generating a massive €1,244,160 prize pool to more than double the €500,000 guarantee slapped on the event.
After four days of play, Italy’s Giuseppe Rosa defeated Stan van Dijk heads-up to win the exquisite trophy along with a mind-numbing €200,340 top prize for just a €555 buy-in.
|2||Stan van Dijk||€140,000|
Battle of Malta 2019
The 2019 edition of the Battle of Malta remained faithful to the tradition of producing record numbers. The number of entries, players, and the prize pool hit an all-time record high once again. The tournament, now professionally operated by the Eden Group in the Casino Malta, attracted 4,657 entries for the Battle of Malta Main Event.
The tournament had a prize pool guarantee of €1,000,000 and kept its €550 buy-in for the 8th year in a row. With the more than 4,000 entries the guarantee was easily surpassed and in the end €2,258,645 where distributed among the players.
The tourney was played over 5 starting days and allowed unlimited re-entries. All players that made it through any of the starting days were already guaranteed a spot in the money and a total of 688 players were paid.
One of the most prolific players in the tournament was the Dutch Steven van Zadelhoff, who’s been a Malta resident for many years now. Zadelhoff is one of the most successful online tournament players of all time with winnings of over $10 Million across various platforms and a World Championship of Online Poker title in his trophy collection. He made it to the final table of the Battle of Malta 2019 and was the favorite to win the title.
In the end Zadelhoff finished 2nd, only beaten by the Moldovan player Serghei Lisii. The two played a heads-up that lasted 4 hours and even a deal struck after 2 hours of play could not speed up the battle. After a total of 43 levels played fortune favored Lisii and he won his final all-in with K♣️7♥ against 7♣️6♦.
Those are the 2019 Battle of Malta final table payouts:
|1||Serghei Lisii||€ 247,167|
|2||Steven van Zadelhoff||€ 217,167|
|3||Josef Gulas||€ 102,050|
|4||Colum Higgins||€ 64,540|
|5||Leo Worthington-Leese||€ 56,470|
|6||Rune Moerk||€ 42,910|
|7||Massimo Bruno||€ 33,880|
|8||Shaun De Cesare||€ 27,100|
|9||Flavio Laudani||€ 24,620|
Battle of Malta 2018
Big changes came about for the 2018 Battle of Malta as earlier in the year the BoM brand and tournament was sold by PokerListings to the Eden Group, which runs and operates Casino Malta and the InterContinental Hotel Malta.
The venue was moved from the Hilton Malta to the massive Eden Arena in the InterContinental and the new space was much in demand.
With Casino Malta’s extensive partner casinos holding satellites throughout Europe and increased qualifiers running online, the Battle of Malta crushed its previous attendance records (and its new €1m guarantee) with 3,816 entrants.
The total prize pool for the Main Event soared to just under €2m with €300,000 originally reserved for the winner. After a 5-handed deal all five players walked away with €100,000+ including the eventual winner, France’s Julien Stropoli, who won €168,500.
Runner-up Maxime Canevet, also from France, took home the biggest share of the prize pool at €192,000.
New Host, New Stars
Long-time poker personality Laura Cornelius assumed the hosting duties for 2018 while a full live stream was run for every day of the tournament with hole cards and commentary added for the final table.
The annual Spirit of Poker Awards were discontinued but the pros and celebs still arrived in force. Included on the player sheets in 2018 were:
- Patrik Antonius
- Boris Becker
- Ana Marquez
- Espen Uhlen Jorstad
- Anthony Gardner
- Sofia Lovgren
- Fernando Pons
- Ivo Donev
- Fabrice Soulier
- Linni Meister
Also launched in 2018 was the first-ever Battle of Malta Ladies Event, sponsored by Lena Evans and her Poker League of Nations organization. The 2018 Battle of Malta final table and payouts:
Battle of Malta 2017
- 2,000 entrants for the Main Event
- €1 million prize pool for the Main Event
After 2016’s steady but static attendance expectations were modest for hitting the 2,000-entries mark in 2017 but the Main Event in fact eclipsed it fairly easily at 2,074 total entries.
Despite still having just its original €550 buy-in and a €500,000 guarantee the prize pool doubled to €1,005,890 and was the largest in BoM Main Event history.
As is fitting for the BoM, which puts such an emphasis on recreational players, Israeli farmer Nadav Lipsyzc stormed to the victory in his first-ever live tournament. Suggesting he might have “channeled Daniel Negreanu,” Lipsyzc refused to mkae a deal at the final table and walked away with the entire €200,000 first-place prize.
Four Israelis made the final table – all who came to the event on the same charter flight! Sweden’s Jonas Hähnert also made BoM history by becoming the first player to final table the BoM Main Event in back-to-back years. He finished ninth in 2016 and one better in eighth in 2017.
The official Battle of Malta 2017 final table and payouts:
New Host Gaëlle Garcia Diaz
French TV presenter and model Gaëlle Garcia Diaz took over the hosting duties and also played the Main Event but didn’t make the money. The final table was live streamed in its entirety with hole cards and commentary provided by Garcia Diaz and a rotating group of guests.
Eight side events in total were played at the 2017 Battle of Malta festival with over €400,000 paid out in prize pools. The fifth (and final) edition of the Spirit of Poker Awards were also awarded at the 2017 Battle of Malta. The winners were:
- Living Legend: Per Hildebrand
- Rising Star: Espen Uhlen Jorstad
- Most Inspiring Player – Liv Boeree
Battle of Malta 2016
With 1,813 entrants it was only slightly larger than the 2015 Main Event but the growing schedule of side events blew away all previous records. Just under €1.3 million was paid out across all events, setting another record.
One of the best stories of the BoM’s history played out in 2016 with two best friends from Sweden battling it out at the final table.
Robert Berglund and Rasmus Eriksson are from a small town (Falun) in Sweden and made their way to BoM together to share the experience. They got that experience and more when they finished 1st and 3rd, respectively.
Berglund took home the title and the biggest BoM payout to that date at €160,000 while Eriksson took home €67,000. Ireland’s John Finnigan Linkins was second for €110,000.
As part of a bet the two Swedes made before the tournament, Eriksson had to get a tattoo of a Swedish horse for busting first.
The full final table and payouts from Battle of Malta Main Event 2016:
|2.||John Finnigan Linkins||€110,000|
|4.||Gonzalo Pro Fernandez||€56,000|
|7.||Robert Sverre Eik||€29,000|
First-Ever BoM Live Stream
Introduced for the first time at the 2016 Battle of Malta was a full live stream with commentary for the final table. Hosted by Roland Boothby and Rikard Åberg with a rotating stream of guests, the stream covered all 5 hours of the final table live.
Attendance was consistent with the year before and so was the star power as dozens of pros and celebrities again turned up to play. Included among them:
- Leo Margets
- Fernando Pons
- Konstantin Puchkov
- Amanada Harkimo
- Petter Katastrofe
- Fabrice Soulier
- Salvatore Bonavena
- Silje Nilsen
Poker pro Maria Ho hosted the event again for her third time. The fourth annual Spirit of Poker Awards, which recognize contributions to the game beyond just big tournament results, were awarded as follows:
- Living Legend: Konstantin Puchkov
- Rising Star: Silje Nilsen
- Most Inspiring Player: Felipe Ramos
The 2015 Battle of Malta continued the trend of perpetual record-breaking with another big leap. Not only did it again break the all-time record for biggest poker tournament on Malta it crossed the 1,800-player mark for the first time, finishing with 1,804 entries.
That made for an €875,000 prize pool (smashing the €500k guarantee again) and six-figure payouts for the top 3 finishers.
France’s Nicolas Proust was the last man standing this time and took home €110,000. Hendrik Koops, the third-place finisher, had the largest payout at €125,000 after a three-handed deal.
Norway’s Henrik Jacobsen finished 2nd for €102,000.
Five side events were played including the Siege of Malta Second Chance, a Deepstack Turbo, the PLO Knight’s Crusade, the Grandmaster High Roller and the Win the Button.
The 2015 Battle of Malta was again nominated for a European Poker Award in the Best Poker Tournament Under 2k Buy-in category.
The full final table results and payouts for Battle of Malta Main Event 2015:
|5.||Carlo van Ravenswoud||€41,300|
Celebs Can’t Stay Away
The tournament was again played upstairs in the Grandmaster Ballroom at the Hilton while the final table was played below in the casino. Host Maria Ho returned for her second time.
A raft of poker pros and celebrities were in the field for the BoM Main Event again in 2015 with notables being:
- American Idol legend William Hung
- Finnish model/singer Kim Herold
- Dutch Field Hockey star Fatima Moreira de Melo
- Tennis pro Raemon Sluiter
- Norwegian TV star Tone Damli
- Italian reality TV star Sabina Hiatullah
The list of established poker pros that attended was long and esteemed, headlined by:
- Humberto Brenes
- Anatoly Filatov
- Felix Stephensen
- Silje Nilsen
- Thor Hansen
- Luca Moschitta
- Fabrice Soulier
- Valentin Messina
- Claire Renaut
- Jackie Cachia
The third annual Spirit of Poker Awards were awarded as follows:
- Living Legend: Humberto Brenes
- Rising Star: Charlie Carrel
- Most Inspiring Player – Anatoly Filatov
With the stakes now definitely raised from 2013 and a clear sign the demand for a low buy-in, recreational-centric poker tournament was almost bottomless, the Battle of Malta 2014 was again a record-breaker.
Several notable firsts came at the 2014 Battle of Malta including:
- Four additional side events
- Over 30 professional players took part
- New Host Maria Ho
- A new €500,000 guarantee for the Main Event
- First six-figure payouts
- First time played in the Grandmaster Ballroom
The extra space of the larger ballroom upstairs from the Portomaso Casino was very much needed as the 1,447 entries smashed the previous record for biggest poker tournament ever held on Malta. The two finalists – Bulgarian Antoan Katsarov and Malta’s Alan James Brincat – both earned six-figure paydays.
The two played the longest heads-up final to date and actually hit the hard stop of the casino’s 5 am closing time. They split the remaining prize pool according to chip counts. Katsarov claimed the title as the chip leader at the time and took home the now iconic BoM Main Event trophy.
Full results and payouts for the 2014 Battle of Malta Main Event final table:
|2.||Alan James Brincat||€107,250|
First European Poker Award
The 2014 Battle of Malta also won the European Poker Award that year for Best Poker Tournament Under 2k Buy-in. Among the notable professional players in attendance at BoM that year included:
- Johnny Lodden
- Dominik Nitsche
- Thor Hansen
- Leo Margets
- Dominik Panka
- Luca Pagano
- Gaëlle Garcia Diaz
- Konstantin Puchkov
- Rupert Elder
- Dermot Blain
- Fabrice Soulier
- Luca Moschitta
- Sofia Lövgren
The second annual Spirit of Poker Awards were handed out as well as follows:
- Living Legend: Thor Hansen
- Rising Star: Dominik Panka
- Most Inspiring Player – Shannon Shorr
Battle of Malta 2013
Poker pros including Dan “Jungleman” Cates, Naoya Kihara, Pierre Neuville, Ashton Griffin, Johannes Strassmann, Sam Holden, Giovanni Rizzo, Sofia Lövgren and Andreas Hoivold, among others, were brought on board to help add some cachet value.
It worked. The Battle of Malta main event drew an impressive 888 entries to jack the prize pool up close to a half-million Euros (more than double the €200k guarantee) and made the wider poker market around Europe sit up and take notice.
Semi-pro player Louis Cartarius from Germany took home €68,000 after a deal (the top prize was €80,000, originally) and the BoM had built some serious momentum for the years to come. Local Maltese player Konrad Abela finished 2nd.
The final-table results and payouts from the 2013 Battle of Malta Main Event:
|6.||Alessandro de Ioco||€15,000|
Biggest Poker Tournament Ever in Malta
Among the other additions for the 2013 Battle of Malta included the wild and fun-loving Dudesons from Finland as celebrity guests, an equally wild VIP party and plenty more celebrity guests.
The 888 entries in the Main Event set a record for the biggest-ever poker tournament ever held on Malta – a record the BoM has gone on to surpass every single year after.
The first annual Spirit of Poker Awards, which aimed to recognize poker players who contributed much more to the game than just tournament victories, were also handed out in three categories.
The first-ever recipients, who were on hand to receive their awards in a live ceremony at the 2013 Battle of Malta, were:
- Living Legend: Pierre Neuville
- Rising Star: Luca Moschitta
- Most Inspiring Player – Naoya Kihara
Battle of Malta 2012
As it turns out the Battle of Malta’s €550 Main Event – the same buy-in it still offers – was a much needed sweet spot to hit a growing group of recreational poker players that found the atmosphere at the big events a bit too stifling for their liking.
They wanted to play poker, and maybe win a nice take home prize, sure. But they also wanted to have a good time, share some laughs with fellow poker enthusiasts and relax in the sunshine of one of Europe’s most scenic destinations.
A burgeoning local poker community fuelled by the expanding iGaming industry and the convenience of being so close to Sicily helped, and 349 players came through the doors to battle it out for the first-ever BoM crown.
Popular poker personality Kara Scott was brought in to host and a few notable pros, including WSOP Main Event Last Woman Standing Gaëlle Baumann, came along too.
Retired Italian doctor Nicodemo Piccolo won the event for €35,000 over runner-up, fellow Italian Giulio Astarita, but, more importantly, the seeds were planted for what might be the future for poker in Malta.
Final table results and payouts from 2012 Battle of Malta: