When talking about poker in Malta, there’s no way you won’t eventually hear the name Jackie Cachia - better known on the island as “Poker Mama.”
Cachia won the Ladies Event at EPT London 2014 and has the most career live cashes of any Maltese poker player.
She’s also one of the few people on the island who can make a living from it.
Jackie loves the game of poker. She plays every big tournament on the island and has earned her respect at the tables over more than a decade.
She is a true inspiration for all Maltese poker players, male or female. That’s why she's nominated for the 2015 Spirit of Poker Living Legend Award.
We visited her at home to introduce the First Lady of Maltese poker to a broader audience.
The First Lady of Maltese Poker
-- by Lars Liedtke
In the past few years Malta has become a poker hot spot in Europe thanks to several big tournaments like the EPT and the Battle of Malta.
When you come to the island to play poker one thing you can be absolutely sure of is to come across the name Jackie Cachia.
Jackie is an institution in the Maltese poker scene and a few years ago became universally known as the “Poker Mama.”
“At that time,” Cachia says, “the Casino Portomaso had an Italian tournament director named Raffaele.
“He called me Poker Mama and it stuck. Out of fun I then made a t-shirt with the saying Poker Mama. After that everybody used it.”
Far from being just a self-appointed label Cachia has held her own at the tables for many years. With the most cashes of any Maltese poker player under her belt, she also doesn’t have to be anything less than straightforward. And she doesn’t mince words.
“I’ve been playing Five Card Draw with friends for many years and that’s where I really learned poker. Nine years ago I started to play Hold’em for play money online.
“At that time the local casino used to run freerolls every Monday. I played and won it and then I played another one and I won it. Afterwards I started to play the regular tournaments as well and slowly started to build a bankroll.”
Unconditional Love for the Game
Nowadays the Casino Portomaso has become her second home as she lives only a couple of meters away in St. Julian’s. Almost every evening she goes there to play tournaments or cash games.
Grinding live games requires stamina, patience and a lot of discipline. Cachia reaches that through her unconditional love for the game.
In fact I don’t know many people who love poker more than me but Jackie is definitely one of them. She lives, breathes and loves poker, which makes her a true inspiration for all players.
It pays off as Cachia is one of the very few Maltese who plays poker professionally and makes a living from it. She has an impressive 26 cashes and almost $80,000 in live tournament earnings.
Her biggest success was winning the Ladies Event at the EPT London 2014. She also had a deep run at the Irish Open 2013 where she was among the chipleaders for three days before falling to online legend Calvin “cal42688” Anderson.
First Maltese Nominee for SOPA
Cachia does a lot for poker in Malta and works diligently to improve the local situation for younger poker players. Despite being one of the most attractive destinations for poker players, Maltese legislation is still very conservative.
Malta is the only country where you have to be 25 years old to be able to enter a casino.
“I think it is a big discrimination,” Cachia says. “I wish somebody from the young players will challenge this and I am sure if they would go to the European Court of Justice they would win."
The Spirit of Poker Awards value passion and enthusiasm over results and, together with all the points mentioned above, is why Cachia is nominated in the Living Legend category this year among poker icons like Erik Seidel and Barry Greenstein.
The intention of the award is to honor players who do something special and help promote poker in their countries. Jackie Cachia is the first Maltese poker player ever to be nominated.
“My first reaction was that of embarrassment. You’re talking about Barry Greenstein, Erik Seidel and in the same breath me.
"At the same time I’m very honored and thankful as I get a lot of support from the local players and my family. When my mother heard about the nomination, she came and said ‘We are very proud of you!," Jackie says with shining eyes.
Dreams of the Main Event
She does indeed get a lot of local support as the Maltese poker community is very strong and proud. On their Facebook page, “Malta Poker Fish,” they even started an initiative to collect votes.
So far it’s working as Cachia is in the top three of the voting. But if there’s something in her life and poker she’s still to accomplish and has always wanted to do, it’s easy for her to decide.
“Definitely play the WSOP Main Event. I would love to play this tournament one day, but to be able to do that I have to win a package or build my bankroll.
“Vegas is always fun. The second one would be to go really deep in an EPT or win a big tournament.”
Jackie shares her dream to play the greatest tournament in the world with many poker players. She knows how important bankroll management is and that she has to grind hard to reach it.
She's one of us and that, together with her unconditional love for the game, is what makes “Poker Mama” so authentic and likable. She’s earned her nomination along with poker legends like Greenstein, Humberto Brenes and Seidel.
Visit the PokerListings Living Legends page to cast your vote. Voting ends September 13.
Watch the full interview with Jackie Cachia here: