Battle of Malta 2014 Main Event

Truce! Antoan Katsarov is the 2014 Battle of Malta Champion!

We asked for a battle, and we got a battle.

So much of a battle, in fact, our two finalists battled right into the 5 am hard stop the casino is required to impose.

At the decision of the Tournament Director, the two will split the remaining prize pool according to the chips at the time of the stop.

Because they are being required to stop, they can't make a further deal to play for any extra money or the trophy, so the tournament is offically over.

The chip leader as of the final hand? Bulgaria's Antoan Katsarov, who will take home €122,750 and the Battle of Malta trophy for 2014!

The runner-up is Malta's own Alan James Brincat, who will himself pocket €107,250.

Both players were quite happy with the decision, although there was some playful banter about who would get to take home the fantastic Battle of Malta trophy.

Congratulations to our two worthy combatants! Full recap to follow in our news section.

1. Antoan Katsarov, Bulgaria €122,750*
2. Alan James Brincat, Malta €107,250*
3. Pär Ebenhardt, Sweden €53,000
4. Oskar Szwed, Poland €42,500
5. Hugo Lemaire, France €32,000
6. Declan Connolly, Ireland €23,000
7. Pontus Dargren, Sweden €16,095
8. Johan Krans, Sweden €12,100
9. Wouter Beumers, Netherlands  €9,100

Bearing Down on Hard Stop

The late hour seems to have taken its toll on both the players and the spectators.

The atmosphere is, shall we say, hushed as minimal amounts of chips move in and out of the pot.

They're bearing down pretty quickly on the hard stop the Tournament Director will need to impose.

If nothing changes, they'll chop it up according to the chips and that'll be that.

Update: They'll play five more hands then chop it up.

Brincat Draws Even

After some back and forth raises before the flop without showdown, Brincat and Katsarov both found a hand good enough to go all-in with.

Brincat raised all-in with A♠ 5♠. He had 6m chips (20 big blinds) and Katsarov called after an unusual long time of deliberation with A♣ 8♥.

While Katsarav was in the lead and looking to take the Battle of Malta down here and now, the dealer had other plans.

The board fell 6♦ 6♠ Q♦ 5♥ 6♥ giving Brincat a pair - enough to beat Katsarov.

Brincat is up to 12m chips now.

No Deal, No Flops

A deal was offered to start heads-up play with 129k on the table for Antoan and 101k to Alan.

Both declined.

Since then they've played 10 hands, none of which have seen a flop.

Brincat won three out of the four first hands. In one of them Antoan opened for 600,000 from the small blind and Brincat shoved on him.

Brincat built a small amount of momentum at first, up probably 1 million in chips, but counts are now right back where we started.

Pär Ebenhardt Out in Third (€53,000), Heads-Up Set

Antoan Katsarov raised from the small blind to 700k and Pär Ebenhardt called in the big blind.

Flop: 9♥ 7♦ 2♣. Katsarov checked, Ebenhardt bet 800k and Katsarov called.

Turn: 6♦. Katsarov checked again and this time Ebenhardt moved all-in for roughly 3.5 million chips.

Katsarov called instantly and showed 7♥ 6♠.

With his two pair he was way ahead against Ebenhardt's bottom pair with A♥ 2♥. Ebenhardt still had five outs, but the K♥ on the river was not it.

Ebenhardt is out in 3rd place and takes home €53,000.

Antoan Katsarov and Alan James Brincat are battling it out heads-up with Katsarov having a tremendous lead over his opponent.

Chip Counts:

Katsarov - 22,550,000

Brincat - 6,505,000

Katsarov Slips Slightly

Chip leader Antoan Katsarov just gave some of his pile of chips back.

He pushed all-in with K♠ 5♦ over Par Ebenhardts open raise.

Ebenhardt, who only had 2.8 million chips (less than 10 big blinds), called immediately with K♦ J♣.

The board ran out Q♦ J♦ 4♦ 4♠ 3♣ to give Ebenhardt a pair and secure his double up.

Katsarov strikes again, eliminates Oskar Szwed (4th - €42,500)

One of the first hands after the break saw Antoan Katsarov min-raising preflop and Oskar Szwed pushing all-in (roughly 12 big blinds) from the big blind.

Katsarov called and as usual he did not waste too much time finding his decision.


Katsarov: 7♣ 7♦

Szwed: A♦ 2♣

Board: Q♦ K♥ 5♦ 4♠ Q♣

No help for Szwed and the Polish player left us in 4th position earning €42,500.

Meanwhile Antoan Katsarov is the overwhelming chip leader with more than 50% of the chips in play.

Hugo Lemaire's Wild Ride Comes to an End (5th - €32,000)

End of the line

End of the line

It was bound to happen: Hugo Lemaire was sent to the rails by Antoan Katsarov.

They went at it multiple times in the last couple of hours with Katsarov almost always getting the best of Lemaire.

In his final hand Lemaire raised all in over an open raise from Katsarov and the Bulgarian player called immediately.


Lemaire: A♣ K♠

Katsarov: T♦ T♥

Board: T♣ 8♦ 5♦ 2♥ 6♣

The very first card the dealer opened up was the ten which sealed the deal for Lemaire, who had a roller coaster on the final table and was by far the most active player.

We'll certainly miss him. Fifth place and a €32,000 payout is nothing to sneeze at.

Complete chip counts for the four remaining players as we go on a short break:

Antoan Katsarov - 11.55

Alan Brincat - 9.96

Par Ebenhardt - 4.12

Oskar Szwed - 4.4

Alan James Brincat Takes One from Pär Ebenhardt

Alan James Brincat opened for 650,000 from under the gun and action folded to Pär Ebenhardt in the big blind.

Ebenhardt called and that brought a flop of A♠ K♥ 7♣.

Both players checked and the turn was the T♥. Ebenhardt bet 450,000 but Brincat wasn’t going anywhere and raised to 900,000.

Ebenhardt looked pained but eventually folded.

“Can I see one card?” he asked Brincat.

Brincat nodded and Ebenhardt picked one facedown card and Brincat flipped over K♦.

After the hand Brincat was closing on 10 million.

Antoan Katsarov Wins Huge Pot Off Hugo Lemaire

French pro Hugo Lemaire opened for 500,000 from the button and Antoan Katsarov opted to make the call from the small blind after several minutes of consideration.

The flop came A♠ 4♠ 4♥ and both players checked.

The turn came J♦ and Katsarov fired 600,000 into the pot. Lemaire thought for a second and then made the call.

The board finished with the 6♦ and Katsarov thought for a long while. He then picked up a stack of 100k chips worth 1.2 million and started making fake movements towards the center of the table but pulling the chips back.

Eventually he put them in the middle. Lemaire insta-called but Katsarov flipped over A♦ T♥.

Lemaire sunk down to 2 million after the hand.

"Count It!"


More action involving Hugo Lemaire, who seems to play almost every hand.

The following hand started by Lemaire open raising in the small blind to 505k (2 big blinds). Antoan Katsarov defended his big blind.

The flop came down as dry possible: K♦ 4♥ 7♠. Lemaire bet 525k and Katsarov called.

The K♥ on the turn didn't alter the structure of the board too much and again Lemaire bet, this time 1,100k. Katsarov called quickly.

After a 2♦ fell on the river, Lemaire slowed down and checked. Now Katsarov sprang into action and moved all-in. Seemingly angered by this push Lemaire ordered the dealer: "Count it!"

The dealer counted: 1,885k chips. There were 4.3 million chips in the pot before Katsarov's push.

Lemaire thought for a couple of minutes and let go of his hand, sending the pot Katsarov's way.

Aarno Kiveliö wins €165 PLO Knight’s Crusade

Aarno Kivelio

The first Omaha title in the history of the Battle of Malta goes to Finland. Congratulations to Aarno Kiveliö.

Kiveliö is an experienced Omaha specialist. In 2009, he finished in third place of the Omaha event at the WSOP Europe.

Tonight, he went into the final table as a massive chipleader. “I really liked the structure of the event. Not too long, not too short.

"Omaha is always a bit of a gamble, but here it wasn’t as much gamble as I had expected. It was great fun to play, and thanks a lot for the trophy.”

Second in chips and runner-up in the tournament was Gunther Sosna from Germany. Marko Cosic came third, holding the shortest stack for basically the whole final table, but proving amazingly “unbustable."

After he was gone Kiveliö and Sosna agreed to chop up the last €8,000 in the prize pool according to the chip stacks, leaving just €10 for grabs.

Kiveliö held almost a 2:1 chiplead so he got the larger part of the prize pool. They then went on to flip in a single hand for the title and Kiveliö came out on top.

PLO Knight’s Crusade Final Table Payouts:

1. Aarno Kiveliö - €4,300*

2. Gunther Sosna - €3,700*

3. Marko Cosic - €1,690

4. Erik Haugland - €1,350

5. Meir Tayar – €1,100

6. Rumen Kostadinov - €890

7. Andrea de Pasquale – €710

8. Ami Tayar – €550

9. Joakim Helenelund – €420

*result of a two player deal

Amazingly, father and son duo Meir and Ami Tayar both made the final table in this inaugural Omaha event; the father eventually lasted three spots longer than the son.

Double Up for Pär Ebenhardt

After two folds Oskar Szwed moved all-in from the small blind with A♠ 6♥.

The one remaining Swedish player Pär Ebenhardt, who had roughly 3 million chips (12 big blinds), called instantly with J♦ J♥.

The board came rather uneventfully: Q♠ 8♣ 8♥ K♣ 9♥ and Ebenhardt secured a much needed double-up with his pair of jacks.

Declan Connolly Out in Sixth (€23,000)

We lost our Irish representative for the Battle of Malta final table.

Oskar Szwed opened for 600,000 from under the gun and Declan Connolly shoved from the cut-off for 2.7 million.

Alan Brincat just called from the big blind. Oskar tank folds

Declan: Q♣ Q♥

Alan: A♠ K♣

The board came J♠ 7♠ 3♠ 3♥… K♦ to eliminate Connolly but he'll leave with a solid €23,000 return on his €550 buy-in.

Lemaire Gains Some Ground

Hugo Lemaire limped from under the gun (players enjoy limping quite a lot at this final table) and everyone folded to Alan James Brincat in the big blind who checked.

Flop: Q♠ 8♦ 7♠. Brincat bet 400k and Lemaire called.

Turn: 3♠. Again Brincat bet 400k and again Lemaire called.

River: 5♠. With four spades on the board Brincat shut down and checked. After some thinking Lemaire checked behind showing Q♣ J♣ for top pair.

Lemaire's top pair was good enough since all Brincat could muster was a busted straight draw with J♦ T♦.

Alexey Kovalev wins the €220 Siege of Malta


Russian player Alexey Kovalev overcame a field of 593 players to win the 2014 Siege of Malta trophy and €24,000.

It took two days and around 14 hours of play until it was all over. Livinio Corradi from Italy managed to get second place, although he was only sixth in chips when the final table started.

Our hats also go off to Helen Gannon, one of the few female starters in the event. She came through the opposition just fine and finished the tournament in third place.

With five players, the Italians dominated the final table by numbers, but Livinio in second place was the best they could manage. The other four busted in one bitter row from 8th to 5th place.

Payouts at the final table:

1. Alexey Kovalev - €24,000

2. Livinio Corradi - €15,000

3. Helena Gannon - €9,000

4. Leopold Neurath - €7,500

5. Danilo Pasquale - €6,300

6. Michele do Casabari - €5,170

7. Davide de Filipo - €4,160

8. Gianpaolo Puglia - €3,170

9. Hagyar Kraus - €2,177

Declan Connolly Doubles Through Hugo Lemaire

Irishman Declan Connolly really seems to have had the luck of the Irish tonight when it comes to surviving all-ins.

Hugo Lemaire, who’s been one of the more active players at the final table, bet out 400,000 from UTG.

Connolly decided to ship his last 1.3 million into the pot from the small blind. Lemaire thought for a couple minutes but opted to call.

Connolly had Lemaire dominated with 7♣ 7♦ over 4♣ 4♠.

The board ran out K♣ Q♣ 8♠ 9♥ K♠ and the sevens held up. After the hand Connolly moved back up to 2.2 million while Lemaire stumbled to 3.1.

Lemaire Finds His Nemesis

It seems like Hugo Lemaire has found his nemesis in Pär Ebenhardt.

They both got into a rumble which started with Ebenhardt raising under the gun to 450k (2.25 big blinds) and Lemaire calling on the button.

They saw a flop of 8♠ 4♠ A♦ and both players checked.

Turn: J♥. Now Ebenhardt woke up and fired an 800k bet which was quickly called by Lemaire.

River: 2♥. Ebenhardt immediately moved all-in for 2.5 million. This push left Lemaire completely dazed.

He tried to get any read from Ebenhardt and asked him: "You got jacks? You clearly got jacks!" But Ebenhardt did not respond at all.

After a couple of minutes Lemaire tried his luck once more: "Help me, I don't know what to do" he pleaded. But Ebenhardt just shook his head, giving no read.

Finally Lemaire let go of his hand which apparently was top pair, but probably not good enough against the Swede. Unfortunately we will never know for sure.

Oakleys for Everybody

A nice perk of making the 2014 Battle of Malta main event final table?

A free pair of Oakley sunglasses, compliments of one of our new sponsors, Sunlab Malta.

Each of the players who made the final table will get a pair, fresh from this year's newest lines.

Thanks, Sunlab!

Pontus Dargren Runs into Queens with Ace-Queen (7th - €16,095)

Sometimes your timing is just bad.

Pontus Dargren opened for 325,000 from late position but the dealer incorrectly said it had to be higher to be at least double the big blind (in reality it already was).

A confused Dargren threw a few more chips into the bet making it 375,000. Hugo Lemaire, who was on the button, pointed out the mistake.

Finally the dealer realized his error and gave Dargren his chips back.

Lemaire folded to Oskar Szwed in the small blind. Szwed thought for a minute and then shoved for around 3.5 million.

Pär Ebenhardt folded his big blind and action was back on Dargren. He tanked for a fair amount of time, shook his head, took off his sunglasses and then made the call.

The players flipped over their hands:

Dargren: A♣ Q♦

Szwed: Q♥ Q♣

The board ran out T♥ 9♠ 9♣ 4♣ 3♥ and that was enough to eliminate a stunned Dargren in seventh place. He picks up €16,095 for his efforts.

It was a monster pot for Szwed and he now finds himself close to the chip lead with nearly seven million chips.

Blind-on-Blind Violence

All players folded to Alan James Brincat in the small blind and he decided to just complete.

Pontus Dargren in the big blind checked his option.

The 3♦ 4♥ 3♥ flop was checked by both players, as were the 2♥ turn and the J♥ river.

Thus without any bets (except Brincats completion before the flop) both players went to showdown:

T♣ 5♦ for Brincat - ten high.

Dargren also only had ten high, but with T♦ 9♦ he had the better kicker and scooped two big blind pot.

PLO Knight's Crusade Hits Final Table

19:15, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    


A total of 116 players registered for the Knight‘s Crusade Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, which is pretty good if you know that it was actually capped at 70.

A little over eight hours of play was necessary to reduce that number to the final nine.

Chip counts as they get underway:

Aarno Kiveliö – 704,000

Gunther Sosna – 411,000

Erik Hauglund – 328,000

Ami Tayar – 168,000

Andrea de Pasquale – 145,000

Rumen Kostadinov – 134,000

Marko Cosic – 100,000

Meir Tayar – 86,000

Joakim Helenelund – 40,000

Fun fact: With Ami and Meir Tayar, we have a father and son duo at the final table. We’ll see how hard they battle each other.

The winner of the first Omaha tournament of the Battle of Malta is going to turn his €165 investment into €5,060.

The runner-up and third place finishers walk away with €2,950 and €1,690, respectively.

Pär Gets Aces, Johan Gets Busted (8th - €12,100)

19:14, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

After a few shoves and no calls at the final table Johan Krans is the latest casualty.

Pär Ebenhardt opened for 600,000 from late position and Krans shoved for 1.3 million from the button. 

Hugo Lemaire contemplated calling from the big blind but eventually folded.

Ebenhardt instal-called and flipped over A♠ A♣, which had Krans’ A♦ K♠ crushed.

The board was an uneventful 9♥ 4♦ 2♥ 6♦ 2♦ and Krans was eliminated in eighth place. He’ll pick up €12,100 for finishing in eighth and one heck of a story to tell his friends.

Two Beards, No Earrings

19:10, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

You know how we like numbers?

Here are a few from the final eight:

Sunglasses: 4

Beards: 2 (Brincat, Ebenhardt),

Beers: 1 (Lemaire)

Headphones: 2

Earrings: 0

Tricky Lemaire

18:56, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Hugo Lemaire seems to have a very special trick in his arsenal.

Right now he called on the button after all players folded to him.

But he threw in a lot of yellow (5k) and pink (25k) chips to match the big blind of 120k.

This prompted both blinds to fold, thinking Lemaire just raised

Wouter Beumers Out (9th - €9,100)

18:40, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The last Dutchman, Wouter Eumers, is out.

Bremer reshoved 2.2m chips with A9o from the big blind against Alan Brincat's CO open raise.

Brincat showed AKs.

The board didn't help, and Beumers is gone.

Eight left!

Giuseppe Broccolo Out (10th - €7,100)

18:23, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Out last Italian standing, Giuseppe Broccolo, is out.

Broccolo reraised all-in for 1m chips with A♥ J♦.

Hugo Lemaire, the open raiser, called with A♠ 4♠.

A four on the flop and Broccolo was cooked.

Lemaire is up to 8.1m -- 25% of all chips in play!

Seating Chart

18:13, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Here's how the final 10 are arranged around the table:

Seat 1: Wouter Beumers, Netherlands

Seat 2: Hugo Lemaire, France

Seat 3: Antoan Katsarov, Bulgaria

Seat 4: Giuseppe Broccolo, Italy

Seat 5: Oskar Szwed, Poland

Seat 6: Pär Ebenhardt, Sweden

Seat 7: Declan Connolly, Ireland

Seat 8: Johan Krans, Sweden

Seat 9: Alan James Brincat, Malta

Seat 10: Pontus Dargren, Sweden

Lemaire Draws First Blood

18:11, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The first hand with a flop an the final table was played between Hugo Lemaire and Giuseppe Broccolo.

It saw Lemaire raise in early position with T♠ 6♠ and Broccolo call right behind him. All other players folded.

Both players checked the T♥ Q♣ 4♥ flop, but Lemaire fired a bullet on the 5♦ turn.

Without much ado Broccolo raised Lemaire's delayed continuation bet but Lemaire called with his 2nd pair.

The 5♠ river was again checked by both players. Lemaire announced "Ten," turned over his hand and saw Broccolo muck his hand without showing.

Lemaire keeps climbing over 6m chips.

And Then There Were 10!

18:02, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

We've paused for the redraw for the official final table!

Ten players are left with Hugo Lemaire leading the chip counts.

Take a look at the happy faces there on your right; details and stacks coming shortly.

For the record, the 11th-place finisher, Stoyan Dyakov, received a very nice bottle of champagne to ese his sorrows.

Great Call Sees Lemaire Reclaim Chip Lead

17:45, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Hugo Lemaire raised from under the gun with T♥ 7♦ and was called by Alan James Brincat in the big blind.

Flop: T♠ 2♠ 2♣. Brincat bet 250k and Lemaire quickly called with his top pair.

Turn: J♠. Again Brincat bet 250k and Lemaire called again.

River: 7♠. With four to a flush on the board Brincat fired another bullet, this time 450k.

It took Lamaire only a few seconds to call a third time despite him only having a weak bluff catcher.

But his read was spot on (again!) as Brincat showed doen A♥ Q♥ for an elaborate bluff.

Lemaire is now up to more than 6 million chips.

Pontus Dargren Busts Stoyan Dyakov (11th)

17:44, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Stoyan Dyakov has been eliminated from the 2014 Battle of Malta shortly after returning from the dinner break.

Dyakov was short-stacked and shipped his last million chips in the middle with T♣ T♥ from under the gun.

Pontus Dargren re-shoved for considerably more from the cutoff with J♣ J♠.

Everyone else got out of the way and the board ran out 6♣ 5♥ 2♣ 4♦ 5♠, which was enough to send Dyakov packing.

We’re now at the pseudo final table of 10 players. Standby for re-draw.

Back From Dinner

17:36, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

As you might have guessed, dinner is over and chips are flying again.

New eliminations to report coming soon.

One player away from the final table!

The Siege Final Table

17:34, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

After almost 12 hours of play we've reached the final table of the €220 Siege of Malta Second Chance event.

So half a day of pure playing time to bring the number of players from 593 down to nine.

It is level 19 with blinds of 15,000/30,000/4000 and the average chipstack is 660,000.

Chipleader is Alexey Kovalev from Russia. Notably, with Helena Gannon, we also have a female contestant still in the tournament.

The players are starting play down to a winner. The last man standing will turn his €220 investment into €24,000!

Chip Count:

1. Alexey Kovalev – 1,075,000

2. Michele do Casabari – 950,000

3. Leopold Neurath – 755,000

4. Helena Gannon – 652,000

5. Gianpaolo Puglia – 610,000

6. Livinio Corradi – 550,000

7. Davide de Filipo – 540,000

8. Danilo Pasquale – 440,000

9. Hagay Kraus – 390,000

Dinner Time

16:54, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

As players comtemplate what €140,000 might feel like in their wallets, they'll load up some plates with carbohydrates downstairs.

Dinner break is 60 minutes; we'll be back along with them shortly.

Say Goodbye to Manfred Sierke (12th)

16:52, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

After briefly having the chip lead, the last two hours have not been too kind to Manfred Sierke.

Now he had to take his leave after pushing all-in for 14 big blinds with Q♥ J♦ against Hugo Lemaire's open raise.

Lemaire held A♠ A♣ and obviously called the all-in.

"You certainly got me there," were the last words Sierke uttered.

He didn't stand a chance against Lemaire's aces after a third ace peeled off as the door card.

Enough Talking

16:25, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

A better party host not even possible

A better party host not even possible

While we wouldn't exactly call the mood "somber" in the tournament room right now it's still not *quite* as ebullient as it was last night.

Close to 400 poker players, friends and guests poured into the Villa at Le Meridien Hotel to celebrate another record-shattering Battle of Malta.

Chairs were danced around, drinks were poured from celebratory heights and a few Maltese cab drivers will likely never be the same.

After three amazing days of poker and spurred on by our host Maria Ho, BOM attendees were definitely ready to tie one on.

Antoan Katsarov Takes Out Lukasz Jochymczyk (13th)

16:19, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

For the last 30 minutes there have been a lot of shorties doubling up but Lukasz Jochymczyk wasn’t one of them.

After getting crippled in a hand against Declan Connolly, Jochymczyk shipped his last 150k in the middle UTG.

Action folded to Antoan Katsarov who raised to 500,000 from the button. The blinds got out of the way and the players flipped over their hands:

Antoan Katsarov: A♦ T♠

Lukasz Jochymczyk: Q♣ 7♥

The board ran out A♠ 9♥ 5♠ T♥ 7♣ and that was it for Jochymczyk. We’re now down to 12 players.

Brincat Takes Chip Lead in Huge Pot vs. Sierke

16:06, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Alan James Brincat has grabbed the chiplead after winning a huge pot against Manfred Sierke.

We came to Table 1 with a huge pot in the making. On a K♣ T♣ 5♦ 6♥ turn there were already 2.3 million chips in the middle and the two players were not done shoving chips in.

After Sierke checked Brincat fired a smallish bet - 400k chips. Sierke called rather quickly.

On the 8♥ river Sierke checked and it took Brincat a couple of minutes to decide to check behind.

Sierke showed down J♥ J♦ which was not good enough against Brincat's top pair with K♠ Q♥.

Raking in this enormous pot Alan James Brincat takes over the chip lead with more than 5.6 million chips to his name.

Lucky River for Stoyan Dyakov

15:51, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Stoyan Dyakov just shoved all-in with A♦ J♦ and was almost done for the day when Hugo Lemaire (who appears to be playing almost every hand now) called with A♥ Q♠.

Neither flop nor turn helped Dyakov, but the river was a big relief for the Bulgarian player.

It was the J♣, giving him a somewhat lucky double up to 1.5 million chips.

He's still below average though and has some fighting to do if he wants to reach the final table.

Mateusz Gorka Falls to Hugo Lemaire (14th)

15:48, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

After his failed bluff against Hugo Lemaire, Mateusz Gorka just busted to, as you might have expected, his nemesis Lemaire.

Gorka shoved his last chips in the middle with J♠ T♠ and Lemaire called with 3♣ 3♦.

The flop gave Gorka top pair, but Lemaire rivered a flush to regain the lead in the hand and bust his opponent.

Mateusz Gorka went out in 14th position and we’re now down to 13 players. That means every player left is guaranteed at least €6,000.

Meanwhile Lemaire is up to 4.4 million now.

Lemaire Picking Off Bluffs, Picking Up Chips

15:42, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Hugo Lemaire is regaining some of the chips he lost in the last two hours.

Right now he picked up a nice 1.8 million pot when Mateusz Gorka bet 450k on a K♣ 7♦ 7♠ T♥ A♥river.

Lemaire called after some thinking with Q♠ T♠ – third pair.

His read was spot on since Gorka only had 9♦ 8♦, a busted straight draw.

Lemaire is up to 3.2 million again.

Massive 3-Way All-In: Sierke Takes Chip Lead, Redouane Out (15th)

15:15, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Table 1 just saw a massive three-way all-in between Manfred Sierke, Wouter Beumers and Mohamed Redouane.

After Redouane went all-in Beumers followed suit and also went all-in. After some deliberation Sierke put all his chips in as well.


Redouane: A♣ Q♦

Beumers: A♦ J♦

Sierke: A♥ K♣

The board did not change anything and Sierke won the hand with Ace high and the best kicker.

Mohamed Redouane hit the rail in 15th position, Wouter Beumers lost 1.1 million chips and Manfred Sierke is now our new chipleader.

Gorka's Parked

15:08, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

To win a poker tournament one has to get a wee bit lucky every now and then.

Polish player Mateusz Gorka just had a little bit of this luck.

After chipleader Wouter Beumers opened with a raise Gorka went all-in with K♦ 6♦.

Since Gorka's push was quite small (750k chips, roughly 8 big blinds), Beumers called with A♣ 4♦.

Beumers had the better hand ... until the river, when the dealer turned over the 6♣ to give Gorka the 1.5 million pot.

Raise and Take

15:03, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The action is slowing down considerably now.

With average stacks of 19 big blinds there's not too much room left to make moves post-flop so most of the action happens before the flop.

The typical hand goes like this: One player raises from middle to late position and either everyone folds or one of the blinds reraises and takes it down.

Understandably, nobody wants to bust just shy of the final table.

The next player to bust will go home with €5,000. But everyone who makes the final table will have at least €9,100 secured - plus, you know, a shot at the €140,000 first-prize money.

No Help for Thomas Valand (16th)

14:46, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Norwegian player Thomas Valand just busted in 16th place.

He pushed all-in from middle position with 9♥ 7♥ (for seven big blinds) and was called by Johan Krans with A♣ K♣.

When going to the showdown Valand was optimistic saying, "Yeah, two live cards", but it didn’t help him as neither a 9 nor a 7 were to be found the flop, turn or river.

We started the day with seven players from Norway and now only one of them is left: Mohamed Redouane.

Vlad Impaled (17th)

14:39, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Vladimir Bozinovic came back from the break with roughly seven big blinds and was determined not get eaten by the blinds.

So as soon as he looked down to see Q♦ 9♦ he shoved all-in from late position. Wouter Beumers called in the big blind with K♠ Q♣ and had Vladimir dominated.

The board did not help Bozinovic, who qualified for the Battle of Malta via Planet Win 365 and he was sent to the rails in 17th position.

On the bright side he will pick up €4,100, which is pretty good when you consider he qualified for the event.

Wouter Out of Control

14:23, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Wouter Out of Control

Chips? We got chips.

Wouter Beumers isn’t taking any prisoners. 

The Dutch poker player is smacking around the final 17 players and he’s up to 3.6 million chips. His closest opponent is local Alan Brincat with 3.2 million.

Brincat is the only Maltese poker player left in the tournament and would do the home crowd proud by taking down the Battle of Malta. Of course the €140,000 for first wouldn’t hurt either.

Here are the latest chip counts:

Wouter Beumers - 3,600,000

Alan James Brincat - 3,250,000

Oskar Szwed -  2,950,000

Declan Connolly - 2,350,000

Pontus Dargren - 2,050,000

Hugo Lemaire - 1,950,000

Antoan Katsarov - 1,600,000

Manfred Sierke - 1,450,000

Giuseppe Broccolo - 1,350,000

Johan Krans - 1,350,000

Lukasz Jochymczyk - 1,250,000

Par Eberhardt - 1,150,000

Stoyan Dyakov - 1,100,000

Mateusz Gorka - 1,050,000

Mohamed Redouane - 900,000

Thomas Valand - 700,000

Vladimir Bozinovic - 700,000

Forza italia! Broccolo Back in the Game

13:53, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Last Italian Standing

Last Italian Standing

Triple up for our last Italian standing, Giuseppe Broccolo.

After Par Eberhardt opened from middle position Broccollo went all-in for 245k chips (4 big blinds) and was called by both Declan Connolly in the small blind and Eberhardt.

On the 9♦ 5♥ 5♠ flop Connolly made a small bet which prompted Eberhardt to fold.


Connolly: Q♠ Q♥

Broccolo: K♦ Q♦

It was looking grim for Broccolo but the turn and river fell 8♥ and K♠, giving the Italian the better pair.

Broccolo is now back in the game with roughly 800k chips.

Szwed Takes Over the Chip Lead

13:42, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

This was one expensive river for Thomas Valand.

He arrived on a A♦ A♥ 6♣ 4♣ J♣ river with roughly 1 million chips in the pot.

Valand held A♣ K♥ and made a 400k value bet. This was met with an all-in raise by his opponent, Oskar Szwed – roughly 1.1 million chips in total.

Valand was visibly upset about this raise and exclaimed "Fuck, I can only beat a bluff now!"

He still made the call and saw the bad news as Szwed turned over A♠ J♦ for a rivered full house.

It looks like Oskar Szwed is our new chip leader now with well over 3 million chips.

Rune Sather Flipped Out (18th)

13:29, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Rune Sather just lost his final flip here at the Battle of Malta. He was all-in with pocket nines against our double runner runner star Alan James Brincat who held Ace-Jack.

The flop gave Brincat an Ace and sent Sather out in 18th place. He’ll take home a payout of €4,500.

Brincat Stars in Runner, Runner 2

13:08, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

An hour ago Alan James Brincat eliminated Konstantin Puchkov by hitting a runner-runner straight with AK against Puchkov's AA.

He just repeated this feat against Ziv Cohen.

Both were all-in before the flop and showed the following hands:

Alan James Brincat: A♦ K♦

Ziv Cohen: A♠ A♥

Board: 4♦ 6♣ 6♠ T♦ 5♦

That's a runner-runner flush for Brincat who managed to hit a very rare scoop with AK vs. AA twice in one hour.

Cohen was sent to the rails and we're down to 18 players on two tables.

Lemaire on Fire

13:00, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Collecting parts for the automaton

Collecting parts for the automaton

Right after scooping the huge pot against Alan James Brincat, Hugo Lemaire just took a good chunk out Mateusz Gorka's stack.

They both exchanged some bets and calls on a J♣5♥ A♥ 4♦ T♦ board and on the river Gorka fired a smallish value bet with A♠ 7♦.

Lemaire called instantly, showed a better top pair with A♣ Q♦ and is up to 3.8 million chips now.

Hugo Flashes the Nine

12:58, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Hugo Lemaire is not made for small bets and this time he managed to scoop a massive pot against Alan James Brincat.

It started with Mateusz Gorka opening to 100k from the cut-off. Brincat called on the button and Lemaire called from the small blind.

Flop: K♣ 6♣ 5♠. After two checks Brincat bet 100k. Lemaire called and Gorka got out of the way.

On the 7♠ turn the fireworks started. After another check Brincat bet 200k which prompted Lemaire to raise to 575k.

After a few minutes of deliberation, Brincat called.

The river fell T♦ and with roughly 1.6m chips in the middle Lemaire went all-in for 1.2m. Brincat didn't seem too happy with this push and after a couple of minutes he got rid of his hand.

Lemaire flashed the 9♦, indicating he in fact had made a straight on the turn.

He's up to 2.8m.

6,000 Monkeys

12:50, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Declan Connolly is a poker pro from Dublin, Ireland.

Apart from cash games he plays most of the regular tournaments in his local casino, which makes him kind of an expert for events like the Battle of Malta.

He has 111 Hendon Mob entries dating back to 2009 and made the final table of the Irish Poker Open twice, once finishing as the runner-up.

“A friend of mine won a BOM package on 888 and asked me to come along, so I thought, why not?

"I usually never leave Ireland which is why all my results on the Hendon Mob are from my local casinos.

"In fact I had to get a new passport ‘cause my old one has expired. I got it only one day before we left, so I nearly wouldn’t have come here.

"Of course having this great experience here I’m gonna go travelling a lot more now. Poker pros usually do that, right? Somehow, with two kids and a girlfriend, I never got around so much, and the Irish casino events have pretty good value, too.

"I like the Battle of Malta very much. It has a good structure, and I seem to be doing well at monkey buy-in tournaments.”

Say what?

“Oh, sorry. Monkey is an Irish term for a $500 buy-in tournament. Anyway, I’ve decided to travel more so I’m going to go to the first PaddyPower event abroad, which will take place in Manchester in two weeks.”

Shortly after the first break of the final day of the Battle of Malta, Connolly was leading the pack with three million chips.

That’s 6,000 monkeys for you Irish lads out there.

Hans Faber Hits the Rail

12:36, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

There will be no comeback story for Hans Faber in this tournament.

After losing almost all of his chips against Antoan Katsarov he went all-in with his last 110k chips and was called by Oskar Szwed and Thomas Valand.

Both of Faber's opponents checked the entire board.


Hans Faber: 4♦ 4♥

Oskar Szwed: K♦ J♣

Thomas Valand: 5♦ 5♥

Board: A♦ T♣ 3♣ 8♥ 8♣

The slightly better pair by Valand sent Faber to the rails, finishing in position 20.

Correction: Puchkov's Unlucky Polo

12:33, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

A brutal bad beat has just sent Konstantin Puchkov out the door.

Puchkov was all-in with A♠ A♣ against Alan James Brincat who held A♦ K♥.

The flop was quite safe for Puchkov, coming down Q♣ 7♦ 8♠.

The turn and river, however, gave Brincat a running straight: J♣ and T♦.

Puchkov was left with less than one big blind and lost that in the next hand against Mateusz Gorka when he went all-in with 52o and could not improve against Gorkas K4.

Fun fact: AK has 8% equity against aces, meaning once every 12 times the player with aces is supposed to lose the hand.

Hans Faber Almost Out

12:29, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

In a blind vs blind situation Dutch player Hans Faber shoved all-in from the small blind with J♣ 7♣.

The big blind, Antoan Katsarov, who was quite short-stacked, called the all-in with K♦ 9♠.

The board gave Katsarov top-pair and the winning hand.

Faber now is left with less than 200k chips - roughly 4 big blinds.

Puchkov's Lucky Polo

12:24, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Lucky polo?

Lucky polo?

Michael Jordan always wore his North Carolina warm-up shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts.

Tiger Woods wears red when he wants to close out a PGA tournament on Sunday.

Does Konstantin Puchkov have his own lucky, tournament-sealing superstition?

Something flashed in our memory banks today when we saw Puchkov settle in to his seat and thanks to our amazing processing speed (aka Uncle Google) we've determined what struck us:

His shirt. When Puchkov won his bracelet in Event #31 of the 2010 WSOP, he was wearing the same shirt he's wearing today.

Or at least we assume it's the same shirt. Perhaps he just liked it so much he bought another.

Either way it doesn't portend well for his opponents. And as another victim fell last orbit, Puchkov is moving up and looking dangerous.

Arunas Sacked in 24th Place

12:13, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Arunas Sapitavicuis started the new blind level with less than 6 big blinds and those just vanished.

Sapitavicuis shoved his remaining chips in with J♣ 2♣ from the small blind.

Contantine Puchkov had an easy call from the big blind with A♣ K♦. The better hand held up and we're down to 23 players.

Back from Break

12:08, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The 24 remaining players have returned to the tables. Who will make the final two tables? Stay tuned...

Break Time

11:47, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

We've hit our first break on Day 3 with 11 less players than we started with.

They're out on a 15-minute reprieve but will be back in their seats momentarily.

Back in a flash.

Arrivederci Boccassino

11:45, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The second-last Italian standing in the Battle of Malta, Mattia Baccassino, just went all-in with Q♠ 9♠.

He got called by Oskar Szwed with A♠ K♣.

Neither flop, nor turn, nor river were any help for the Italian and he is out in 25th place.

Giuseppe Broccolo is the last Italian flying the flag, but things are looking grim for him too as he's currently one of the shortest stacks.

Oskar Szwed Scores Crucial Double

11:28, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The other Oskar in the tournament, that would be Oskar Szwed, just hit a much-needed double up.

Szwed got luck to hit a set with pocket jacks on a K-J-X-X board. His opponent Mattia Baccassino had the misfortune of hitting top-pair with K-T.

Baccassino bet the turn and Szwed shoved for 690,000. Eventually Baccassino made the call and the river bricked.

After the hand Szwed was up to over 1.6 million chips.

Szwed started the day as the short stack but he’s been chipping up early.

Messina Guillotined By River King

11:27, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

We started the day with three players from France; now we're down to one.

Valentin Messina was the second French player to leave us today.

He shoved his remaining chips in with A♠ 9♠ and was called by A♦ K♣.

He was in a bad spot, but managed to flop a nine to take the lead.

His opponent eventually caught a King on the river to send Messina to the rails in 26th place.

Exit Oscar Denzler

11:20, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Oscar Denzler just busted in 27th place.

He shoved his last 350k chips in with T♦ 7♥ and was called by K♦ Q♥.

The board gave his opponent two pair and Oscar was eliminated in 27th place, earning €3,300.

Meanwhile in the Overflow Room

11:15, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Ready for battle

Ready for battle

While the Main Event gets into the nitty gritty up on the stage, over in the overflow room the Siege of Malta Second Chance event is getting close to the bubble.

Of the 593 players who entered (bigger than the concurrent King's Cup event in Rozvadov, Czech Republic btw), 112 started on Day 2 in pursuit of one of the 72 spots in the money.

Just around 80 players are left last we saw with a color up in progress and a break underway.

PokerStars rep Gaelle Garcia Diaz is stacked without about 103k in chips and, as you can see from the picture, is dressed for battle.

We'll check in again later as they power on to the final table.

Connolly Smashes Lemaire in Huge Pot

11:01, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Two of the biggest stacks just clashed in a massive pot.

Declan Connolly opened the hand with a 30k bet under the gun. Lemaire raised from the small blind to 110k. In turn Connolly upped the ante by re-reraising to 385k. Lemaire called.

Flop: T♣ 8♥ 6♦.

Conolly bet 430k which Lemaire called.

Turn: 6♥

Both players checked.

River: J♣

After another check by Lemaire but Connolly went all-in for roughly 1,100,000. Hugo Lemaire could not fully comprehend, what Connolly was doing. After a couple of minutes he uttered: "There's no hand that makes sense".

After a couple more minutes Lemaire folded his hand sending the 2.7 million pot Connolly’s way.

Puchkov Comes to Shove (Almost)

10:42, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Russian poker pro Konstantin Puchkov just (almost) doubled up in a rather weird fashion.

Mateusz Gorka opened on the button to 60k and Puchkov reraised from the big blind to 400k, leaving himself 40k behind.

His opponent called this raise and both of them checked three times on a Q♦ 8♠ 4♥ 3♥ J♣ board.

Afterwards Puchkov turned over A♦ K♦ which was good enough to rake in the pot.

Tough Luck for Thomas Holst

10:31, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Not his day

Not his day

It wasn't Danish player Thomas Holst's day today.

First he lost a preflop all-in with Q♠ Q♦ against A♦ Q♣. Hs opponent, Pontus Dargren, rivered a straight.

He never recovered from that bad beat and shoved his last 8 big blinds with A♥ 6♠ just to get called by K♥ K♦.

Holst didn't get any help from the board and was sent out in 30th place.

Huge Bluff Goes Way Wrong for Andrea Dato

10:08, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Italian poker pro Andrea Dato just went out in flames against Mateusz Gorka.

On a 4♠ 5♠ A♥ 4♦ 2♣ board he fired the flop and the turn with 7♣ 6♣, a straight draw.

After whiffing his draw on the river he went all in which sent his opponent into the tank. After a couple of minutes Gorka called the all-in with T♠ T♥.

A good read by Gorka and a spectacular, if disappointing, final hand for Dato who finished 32nd.

Last Woman Walking

10:05, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Rapidfire eliminations have been the order of the day during the first hour of Day 3.

We just lost our third player and the last woman standing, Hege Sogstad.

After losing a biggish pot with T9s against AKo all in preflop she shoved the last of her chips (5 big blinds) in the middle with 7♥ 5♠.

She was called in one spot, got shown K♣ K♦ and the board did not improve her hand.

With 32 players left, sadly we're a male-only event now.

Stoyan Dyakov Hits Quads to Triple Up

10:03, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

That’s how you want to start the day!

Within minutes of the Day 3 starting we had a massive three-way all-in, which ended with one player tripling up and another heading straight to the rail early.

We ran to the table to find three players all-in with Wouter Beumers easily covering both opponents. The hands were:

Wouter Beumers: Q♣ J♠

Ronny Svedsen: K♥ J♦

Stoyan Dyakov: T♦ T♣

The flop came A♦ Q♠ T♥, which dramatically gave Dyakov broadway and the lead in the hand. Dyakov also hit a set of tens.

The fireworks weren’t done, however, as the turn peeled off the deck T♠, which gave Dyakov quad tens!

The river was a meaningless 2♣ and Dyakov tripped up to 760k while Svedsen fell to the rail in 35th place for €2,500.


Remember, There's Money Involved Here

10:02, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Trophies are cool but cash rules

Trophies are cool but cash rules

Lest we forget, the remaining 35 players are here to make some money on top of their Battle of Malta experience.

Everyone who made it to Day 3 today is guaranteed at least €2,500 with the first pay jump at place 30.

Everyone in the final eight will make five figures and the top two will collect an pretty stunning €230,000 between them.

The payout chart for the remaining players below:

Place Payout

1. €140,000

2. €90,000

3. €53,000

4. €42,500

5. €32,000

6. €23,000

7. €16,095

8. €12,100

9. €9,100

10. €7,100

11-13 €6,000

14-16 €5,000

17-20 €4,100

21-30 €3,300 

31-35 €2,500

Man Down

09:55, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

Barely had time to get his seat warm

Barely had time to get his seat warm

Less than 5 minutes after the shuffle up and deal we have the first casualty of the day.

French player Sebastien Brun Baronnat lost a flip in the second hand he played and is out in 35th place.

He'll collect €2,500 for his troubles and get to spend the rest of the day out in the Maltese sun.

Hugo No Show

09:38, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    


The final day of the 2014 Battle of Malta main event is underway minus one significant player - chip leader Hugo Lemaire.

Chips are clicking furiously up on the feature stage and our chip leader is not maong them.

Oh wait - he's just strolled past our desk as we speak, calm and cool as if he's not playing for €140,000 today.

We should all be so smooth.

2014 Battle of Malta: The Final Day

09:15, 9 November 2014, published 5 years agoShare:    

The battle is nearly over.

Out of an original 1,447 entries only 35 players remain and the €140,000 first-place prize is looming large.

French pro Hugo Lemaire leads the pack with 2.3 million although Declan Connolly of Ireland (2.1 million) and Serbian Vladimir Bozinovic (1.8 million) aren’t that far behind.

Popular Italian pro Andrea Dato will bring 886,000 chips into play today and has to be considered one of the favorites.

Russian player Konstantin Puchkov will start with 686,000 and has already secured yet another cash for his impressive tournament record.

Fridtjov Såheim, star of the TV show Lilyhammer, will bring 439,000 into play today and will add a significant bit of trivia to his IMDB page if he can take down the tournament.

Some of the other notables include 2011 Paris Poker Open winner Valentin Messina and 2008 Norwegian Championship fourth-place finisher Oyvind Efraimsen.

Every player left in the tournament is guaranteed €2,500 but the big money starts at the final table where every player gets at least €9,100.

The goal is to play all the way to a winner today so it will likely be a long day. Here are the top 10 chip counts to start the day:

1. Hugo Lemaire - 2,389,000
2. Declan Connolly - 2,100,000
3. Vladimir Bozinovic - 1,856,000
4. Wouter Beumers - 1,375,000
5. Par Eberhardt - 1,310,000
6. Rune Sather - 1,274,000
7. Thomas Valand - 1,027,000
8. Hans Faber - 1,014,000
9. Mohamed Redouane - 1,013,000
10. Thomas Holst - 970,000

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