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Exciting Times in 2023 For Mixed Games Players in Europe

Exciting Times in 2023 For Mixed Games Players in Europe

Events Galore for Fans of Poker Variants 

As I write this piece in late April 2023, there have already been three events featuring mixed games tournaments, the Malta Poker Festival is in full swing, and I am looking ahead to several events already confirmed that either feature mixed games or are chock full of them. If this year is anything to go by, mixed games poker is on the rise in Europe.  

What Already Happened? 

In February this year The Festival Series visited the excellent card room at Dusk Till Dawn, Nottingham, England. As always at a stop of this series, there was a huge variety of gambling opportunities offered. Several poker variants and casino games were offered in tournament format.  

Also, in February there was a Kings of Tallinn festival at Olympic Park Casino in Estonia. It featured a good number of mixed games events on the tournament schedule. I attended that festival and wrote a blog that you can read here.  

A quick look at the results pages on the sites of the above two festivals reveals that one man, Tuomas Roppanen of Finland, managed to win the 8-game tournament in Tallinn then take down the Sviten Special tournament in Nottingham. He also narrowly missed out in Nottingham in the 4/5/6 card Pot Limit Omaha event, in which he took second place. Awesome performance for the Finn, who might well be a player to watch out for.  

Then in March there was the Poker North Masters and Norwegian Championship, held at Card Casino, Bratislava, Slovakia. A venue I have played at in the past and a schedule that started with four days devoted to six mixed games tournaments – with a few other mixed games tournaments dotted into the later parts of the schedule – this was a festival I was sorry to miss!  

Right now I am spending my days – and nights – playing mixed games cash at the Malta Poker Festival. On Tuesday 25 April I hosted a HORSE tournament at the Festival, and this was a huge success. My role as host is as the face of a group of 4 mixed games enthusiasts and we are calling our group Donkeyfish. Our purpose is to expand mixed games both by encouraging operators to put on events and spreading the word among poker players about the love we have for all things mixed.  

Donkeyfish at Malta Poker Festival with Martin Smith
Figure 1 Donkeyfish Group - from l to r Jeremy Tan, Martin Smith, Wouter Schuurbiers and Jean Cassar Parnis 

There was a bounty on each of our heads in this tournament – the player who knocked out each one of us received a copy of Getting Started With HORSE Poker by Chris “Fox” Wallace and Michael and Robert Mizrachi, signed by “Fox” himself. My bounty was collected by local player and massive character Raymond Galea, who prevailed in a hand of seven card stud. I was all in on third street and drawing dead by sixth street!

Figure 2 Presenting the Bounty to Raymond Galea 

The tournament attracted 54 entries and was popular with local players as well as people who travelled from overseas to take part in the Malta Poker Festival. The structure that was developed by Portomaso Casino was excellent. Early play meant something, by which I mean the levels did not start too small and therefore discourage players from turning up for the early levels. But betting limits and antes did not climb too steeply, and this meant there was play all the way through. At the end of it all, the winner was local favourite Antoine Degiorgio. Antoine is Maltese and is the main man for poker on the island – he represents the interests of players in taking issues to the casino operators, promotes the games that are being offered by those casinos to the players and runs the Malta Poker Fish Facebook group that is very active and popular among the poker community on this rock.  

As well as the tournament there was a Super Dealers Choice cash game table running for the whole week. For those who don’t know, Super Dealers Choice means any poker variant will be played if the rules can be clearly described, and the players and dealer can understand them. There were Fixed Limit, Pot Limit and even Half Pot Limit games chosen! Some people brought games we had never heard of in Malta (Pompey Ducks, anyone?!) and a couple of new games were invented. This might sound somewhat daunting, but the players are friendly and not only describe the games but also give a few tips to help new players to avoid falling into traps.  

A huge thank you to Portomaso Casino and Ivonne Montaleagre of the Malta Poker Festival for helping us to put these games on. Look out for further Donkeyfish offerings later in the year and beyond.  

Looking Ahead 

The Festival Series Malta 

May 2023 sees The Festival Series come to Malta for the first time. This will be held in Portomaso Casino, Malta’s premier poker venue. I predict this will be a huge hit for the locals as well as an event that will draw in a good number of players from all over Europe. Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk is the head of The Festival Series operation and anyone who knows this larger-than-life character is fully aware of his passion for the gamble. His festival schedules are packed full of opportunities for gamblers to take a punt, not only at the poker tables because there are also Blackjack, Roulette, Slots and Sportsbook tournaments.   

Highlights of the tournament schedule for mixed games poker players to look forward to are: 

  • May 15 – 16: Pot Limit Sviten Special, buy-in €250. 
  • May 17: 8-Game, €125 
  • May 18: HORSE, €250 
  • May 19: Open Face Chinese, €250 

There are also a few Pot Limit Omaha tournaments available, including a 4/5/6 card affair on May 18 (€250) and a PLO/PLO8 mix on May 19 (€125).  

From my own experience at The Festival Series in Bratislava in October 2021 I can predict that there will be some amazing cash game action to be enjoyed. Of course, there will be No Limit Hold Em for the GTO grinders, and Pot Limit Omaha for the many enthusiasts that will be present, but there is also likely to be Super Dealers Choice available. With the expected attendance of many players from Sweden I expect Sviten Special to be offered as a game as well.  

A feature of The Festival Series is a Cash Game Challenge: every day of the festival sees two feature tables run for a specific length of time and the person who wins the biggest number of big blinds in a session throughout the week wins a generous package to a future stop of The Festival Series.  

Battle of Malta (BOM) 

This is a popular long-standing festival for midstakes players in Europe and these days is held in Casino Malta. Up to this year the BOM schedules only featured No Limit Hold Em and Pot Limit Omaha tournaments, but for the first time the Spring 2023 offering includes a HORSE tournament. This will take place at 9pm on Friday 2 June with a €200 buy-in. 

The full schedule for the Spring edition of the Battle of Malta 2023 is available on the Hendon Mob website.  

Poker-SM Live 

The Swedish Poker Association’s live Swedish Championship 2023 will be held in Bratislava, Slovakia between 14 – 21 August. Sadly, the mixed games events – Sviten Special, Draw, 8-Game, HORSE and Chicago – are not open for non-Swedish nationals to enter. Nevertheless, I am assured that cash action will be plentiful for mixed games players.  

The Swedish language web page for this festival can be found here.  

ETOP Cruise 

ETOP is an Italian operator that puts poker festivals on in a number of locations and also organises poker cruises. From 2 – 9 September this year there is a Special Edition PLO Cup that will be held while aboard a cruise ship taking players around the Mediterranean Sea. The cruise starts and finishes it journey at the port of Marghera, near Venice, will take in some of the Greek islands and will call at Bari on the return journey.  

As well as the Pot Limit Omaha main event, players can try their hands at other poker variants including Sviten Special, Omaha Hi/Lo, HORSE, Stud Hi/Lo, 8-Game, Omaha/Sviten mix and Omaha/Razz mix.  

ETOP September 2023 schedule

And That’s Not All… 

I am sure there will be more festivals that feature mixed games this year that have not been announced yet. Some possibilities, none of which can be confirmed and some being more likely to happen than others: 

  • I have heard rumours of a Summer weekend of mixed games in Malta. Nothing confirmed yet, no dates announced… but I am excited at the prospect and expect to have some input into the schedule if it does happen. If you have any requests for events you would like to have included please find me on Twitter @poker4leisure and send me a direct message. 
  • Another rumour I heard is that the Autumn (Fall, for any readers from across the pond!) edition of the Malta Poker Festival will feature more mixed games tournaments than the Spring edition. I hope to be involved again as part of the Donkeyfish group.
  • This page seems to indicate there will be another edition of The Festival Series in Bratislava from November 28 – December 3. Franke has recently got into the habit of announcing the next stop of The Festival Series while an edition is currently in full swing. If he keeps to that habit we will no doubt have confirmation in the middle of May about this! 
  • Finally, there are also rumours of a cash game weekend focussing on mixed games to be played in Bulgaria.  

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