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The Malta Poker Festival and Its Founder, Ivonne Montealegre: Great Poker, Great Prizes… And Gorgeous Weather!

The Malta Poker Festival and Its Founder, Ivonne Montealegre: Great Poker, Great Prizes… And Gorgeous Weather!

The idea seemed a bit too ambitious from the start: carry out an interview with Ivonne Montealegre, the indefatigable driving force behind the Malta Poker Festival - one of Europe’s most ‘happening’, bustling, non/stop, big real money poker extravaganzas - on the opening day of the festival…

Anyone who’s ever been to such an event will be well aware of the sheer scale and constant buzz, the seemingly distracting ‘clink’ of thousands of poker chips actually a comforting, almost rhythmic reassurance in a charged and exciting atmosphere unique to large-scale poker festivals. And this is exactly the scenario at the Malta Poker Festival, which kicked off yesterday and features a €500,000 GTD Main Event powered by partypoker (one of numerous poker operators and ‘names’ involved in the MPF).

Just as a swan’s wonderfully graceful movement is the ultimate metaphor for serene expertise, the picture of elegance in motion a stark contrast to the hidden level of activity beneath the water’s surface, the ostensibly smooth running of poker festivals with hundreds of eager competitors from around the globe and all walks of life, egos and nerves at their most raw, is made possible by the dedication and monumental effort of the people who organise them. And leading this band is Ivonne Montealegre...

Malta Poker Festival founder Ivonne Montealegre.
The indefatigable Ivonne Montealegre

At the Portomaso Casino Malta, a fantastic poker venue in a fantastic setting in St Julian’s, this vision of combined serenity and success is in no small part down to MPF founder, Ivonne Montealegre. Thanks to her drive, attention to detail, an understanding of what can enhance poker’s bigger picture and a desire to make the poker experience much more than a chance to win money, the Malta Poker Festival is the success that it is.

As well as the megabucks Main Event, there’s a host of other stuff going on this week. Fans of mixed games, for instance, have the €230 buy-in HORSE Powered by Cardplayer Lifestyle tournament, hosted by Robbie Strazynski – this invitation of a poker personality to the MPF that is a typical nice touch from Ivonne Montealegre.

Another is the turn of popular player and poker ambassador Katie Swift, who will host the €100 buy-in Ladies First! event on the 29th. Note that Ivonne is also the International Affairs Director of the Women’s Poker Association (WPA), so this, and the subject of women in poker specifically, is a key issue to the MPF founder.

No Bubble Trouble at the Malta Poker Festival!

Even the horror story that is the dreaded ‘Bubble’ has been addressed by Montealegre and her team, with the help of MPF partner Luxon Pay - this is a global e-wallet service provider whose Luxon Pay app offers players an ultra-convenient way to buy into live poker events and games. Luxon Pay are offering Bubble Insurance: players who buy in to ANY MPF events (excluding Satellites) via Luxon Pay will have their buy-in returned should they be knocked out on the Bubble!

Meanwhile, Luxon Pay have also joined forces with the Malta Poker Festival and the World Poker Tour (WPT) to award a special prize for the eventual winner of the €500,000 GTD Grand Event, namely a WPT Prime Package for the WPT World Championship at the Wynn Las Vegas, December 8th-12th. The package includes the $1,100 buy-in for the $2 Million GTD event, $1,300 travel expenses and a hotel package worth $1,600.

Finally, on the 31st – to bring the MPF to a fittingly Halloween-themed finale, comes the special €150 buy-in and aptly named Win the Spooky Cross tournament, hosted by Ivonne Montealegre herself!

Portomaso Casino Malta. Front side view.

And the interview? It turns out that we didn’t need the usual questions and answers this time around, as the MPF speaks for itself...

However, I should point out that, having previously met Ivonne, and after our recent phone call, her passion for what she does is tangible. She did wish to say how she hopes the MPF will be a welcome experience after the last couple of years or so of COVID and its implications, that the festival is bigger and better than ever, with new events and new elements and (much to my jealousy, as I looked out of my window in Glasgow to see a typical vista of a dark daytime sky through driving rain...) the weather right now in Malta is ‘gorgeous’... Wish you were there? I certainly do.

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