While the first-ever EPT Malta is on everyone's lips this week at the Portomaso Casino, there's still another record-setting poker festival to come in Malta this year.
There will be a bit less money on the table, yes. But a world-class poker festival in its own right with a very different objective in mind: Fun.
With just a €550 buy-in and a €700,000 prize pool the 2014 Battle of Malta set all kinds of records including biggest poker tournament ever held on Malta and largest standalone tournament in Europe.
Despite the huge €140k first-place payout the emphasis was still on providing a casual, laid-back atmosphere and the perfect poker holiday for the low- to mid-stakes poker player.
With 1,447 entries the Battle of Malta main event delivered beyond expectations and was nominated in the Event of the Year (Under €2k Buy-In) category for the 2014 European Poker Awards, to be presented in Malta tomorrow night.
On the brink of the big moment PokerListings Sweden's Denni Balic spoke to BOM Tournament Director Ivonne Montealegre about her hopes for the award and big plans for Battle of Malta 2015.
DB: Ivonne this is the first time we’re speaking to you after last year’s Battle of Malta. How happy are you with last year’s tournament?
IM: We’re very, very happy here at PokerListings.
I think we corrected some issues and made it exactly the poker festival vibe we wanted to achieve.
I’m very, very happy. The company overall has been very involved in it, it’s our crown jewel promotion throughout the year, so we’re very happy with the results.
I mean 1,400 players plus is a really good number for Malta.
And everyone seemed to enjoy the poker festival, the tournaments, the side events, the parties.
DB: I met a couple of players and journalists at the EPT Malta yesterday and some of them told me that they enjoyed Battle of Malta a bit more. What do you think the reason is?
IM: Well, really that is very, very good news and it’s definitely flattering to compare it to a tournament the caliber of the EPT.
I’ve been to EPT Malta, I think it’s a great event. We’re very happy to have an event of this caliber on the island; it sets the bar high for all of us.
I would say the EPT … they’re champions with their structures, the tournament itself is run in such a lovely way, so organized and everything. You can see that they put a lot of effort into it.
However I would say that the vibe is a little bit different. It’s a little bit more serious, a little bit more stressful, whereas the Battle of Malta is really all about the fun. It’s more of a poker holiday.
That’s why I think the EPT doesn’t focus too much on player parties and the poker community feel that we’re trying to push at Battle of Malta. They’re different events.
DB: The Battle of Malta is also nominated in the European Poker Awards (Ed. Note: Event of the Year Under 2k Buy-In). Can you tell us a bit about your expectations?
IM: Oh, we want to win! We definitely want to win. It’s been three years of the Battle of Malta and it would be very nice to get that recognition from our peers in the poker industry.
We definitely would be very appreciative and we’d take that trophy home to our PokerListings office. We put a lot of effort into this.
I’ve said this before, the BOM volunteers, our employees that work for free for the tournament, we put a lot of love into this tournament, a lot of effort, so that kind of recognition from the industry would be something really to look forward to.
DB: Can you tell us a bit about the plans for the next Battle of Malta? Will there be any changes?
IM: Yes, we’re listening to the players. We’re always listening to the players. We did a player survey and I think that the calendar will be much better organized.
Last year we barely had time for anything. Players were missing the cocktail party. It was packed; the schedule was packed.
Now we’re having an additional starting day, which guarantees us a much smoother structure to play with and to also be able to attend all the activities we have. We’re planning a very cheeky, interesting player party!
DB: It looks like we have something to look forward to.
IM: Absolutely! Absolutely.
DB: Thank you Ivonne and good luck.
IM: Thank you so much!
For more information and to reserve a 2015 Battle of Malta package at a 10% discount, visit the Battle of Malta home page.