The crowd swelled for a big Day 1B at the EPT Malta main event today with several big-name players in the mix at the top by day's end.
A solid 454 starters entered today to boost up the smaller cohort of 184 who kicked things off on Day 1A yesterday.
At 638 players the field is still well below the 895 of the first EPT Malta in March this year but, given the repeat visit in such a short time frame, a solid number.
Emerging from the herd with good-sized stacks included Faraz Jaka (120,800), 888poker pro Dominik Nitsche (98,000), Patrick Leonard (92,200), EPT Malta High Roller champ Mike "Timex" McDonald (88,900) and Johnny Lodden (87,200).
Sikora Chip Leader on 153k
By the looks of it the Day 1B chip leader is Jaroslav Sikora on 153k, slightly behind the 163,000 of Day 1A leader Carmelo Crucitti.
Plenty of big names moved forward from Day 1A as well including Thiago Nishijima, Thomas Muehloecker, Steve O'Dwyer, Niall Farrell, Dominik Panka and Anthony Zinno.
Check the full updated chip counts to begin Day 2 tomorrow on the PokerStars blog.
One Champion, One Orbit
It’s Day 1B at the second EPT Malta main event of 2015 and we’re checking in on former EPT main event winner Allan Baekke.
Baekke won the now legendary Snowfest in Austria in 2010, one of the smaller events, but very popular because of the fantastic location in the Alps where it was held.
Here he's had a rough time in the first few levels and is now trying to climb back. It’s Level 6, the blinds are 200/400/50 and Baekke is already down to 11.4k from his 30k starting stack.
When we arrive at the table Baekke folds under the gun and then also folds his big blind to a raise. In the third hand it's folded all the way around to him in the small blind and he only fills up.
The big blind checks and they see a flop of Q♦ J♥ 5♦. Baekke bets 500 and takes it down. In the next hand he calls a raise to 1,100 and the small blind reraises to 3,600. Everybody folds.
Hand 5 is the most interesting in this orbit. Bakke sits in the cut-off. There is a raise from middle position to 950. The player in the hijack calls and Baekke reraises to 2,850.
The initial raiser folds but the hijack comes along. The flop is 6♣ 6♦ 9♣ and both players check. On the turn Q♦ the hijack checks again and Baekke fires out 2,500.
It takes the hijack two minutes to think about it but then – visibly annoyed – he folds.
In hands 6-9 Baekke gives up his hand without resistance. In this orbit Baekke plays three hands. He folds one to a reraise behind him, wins one on the flop and one on the turn.
All in all Baekke wins 3,650 chips during this orbit, which is a substantial addition to his short stack. We don’t know how Baekke lost two-thirds of his stack so early but we could see how a former champion carefully tries to get his chips back without getting into pots that are too big and situations that are too dangerous.
Sitting in the small blind he is literally invited to steal the pot, and the other hand he wins is when he sits in a good position and isolates the player to his right, who’s been by far the most active player at the table.
Baekke controls the pot on a flop with very few draws and takes it down on a queen on the turn, which is a card definitely in his range plus very good one to bluff on.
Spin & Go Live!
PokerStars Spin & Gos - But Live!
Based on that success they're now offering Spin & Gos live and Malta is the first location where you can try them out.
It works like this: The buy-in is €50 and there are three players. The blinds are 5 minutes and players start with 1,000 chips and blind levels of 25/50.
Before play begins there is a spin of the Spin & Go wheel of fortune. The prizes on the wheel range from €100 to €1,000, and wherever the wheel stops that’s the prize pool for the winner to take.
No chops, no deals, no second place – winner takes it all. At least one €1,000 has already been paid out to Bulgarian Kristiyan Trchyu.
The Spin & Gos are offered in front of the Spinola Suite where several side events are taking part and where the inaugural Battle of Malta was played.
There was a BOM satellite at the Portomaso Casino tonight. 30 players took part which means that three more players have secured their Battle of Malta main event tickets.
At least four live BOM satellites remain to be played before the 2015 BOM kicks off in earnest on Nov. 4. Check the full live satellite schedule here.