San Giljan, Malta Nov
This is one of two tournament series I love to go to every year (the other one being the Norwegian Championships that has been in Dublin since 2012) for poker and even more so to have fun. Of course the poker is important when I go, but the social life is just as much the reason why I love these two destinations.
Battle of Malta has been a huge success over the last few years. I came in 2013 for the first time and it was 888 players. Last year it was 1,447 and this year a total of 1,804 players entered! Of course this is Malta’s biggest tournament and it’s a good one for all type of players! The buy-in is 550 euro and you can have on re-entry.
The tournament is held at The Casino at Portomaso and the two rooms used are pretty big and nice. The dealers have been pretty good and better than the last couple of years in my experience at least. I wish they had a tournament director that spoke better English, since I didn’t hear most of what he said, but other than that no complains.
The night before I started playing I was down in the casino waiting to go to dinner with some of the super staff here. I decided to test my luck at the table game Texas Hold’em. Here you play against the dealer and every hand is literally a coin flip. I played 13 hands and lost all 13 of them. I ended up quitting and hoped I had gotten rid of some bad luck before the real tournament.
I had my first buy-in (spoiler) on Wednesday (Day 1A) Nov 4th. I started out playing good poker and build my stack exactly like I wanted to. My bluffs and value bets were well timed, but even more so my (good) calls made me the biggest pots. Before dinner break I was up to 75,000 from 25,000 starting stack at the most. Things looked fantastic!
After the dinner break bad things started to happen. I got kings cracked by A-10, jacks cracked by 7-9 and lastly queens cracked by 2-3(!). On the last hand mentioned a player was holding 2-3 of clubs when I opened with black queens. The flop was 9-6-5 with two spaded. I bet and got called. On the turn it came another club and again I bet and got called. On the river the third club hit. I checked and he bet half pot. I had to call and then I got the bad news.
I ended up busting when I opened from the button with Q-J and the flop was Q-J-10. I kind of knew that I was beat but I had put in half my stack when I realized it, so I was pretty pot committed. I was hoping I was up against Q-10 or J-10, but I was up against K-9. No help for me and good night. Blah!
I re-entered on Thursday. I got a very slow start with no cards at all for the first few levels. I was just grinding to keep my stack alive. But after having played tight and careful for several levels I struck gold. We were playing 100/200 (25) and I opened in middle position with red fives to 450 and got called by both blinds. The flop was A-Q-5 with two hearts. I bet 1,000 and got called by both players again. On a black 8 on the turn it was checked to me again. I fired 2,500 this time just to have the small blind raise to 7,500. I was pretty sure he had A-Q or A-8 here and didn’t want to give any free cards so I pushed all in for about 18k extra. He pretty much snapped me off with A-Q. No miracle card for him on the river and I won a 54k pot when average was half that. Me like!
But after this pot I was extremely card dead. I didn’t get any more pocket pairs for 6 levels! And I only got A-K and A-Q once each and very few fun hands (suited connectors). I was at some pretty aggressive tables so I got very few good spots. I was able to win a few pots to maintain my stack, but my stack was between 50 and 60k until the last two levels of the day.
On the last levels I finally got some cards, but if I had A-K the flop was low and I got check-raised all-in and when I had pocket pairs I got high flops. I also had K-Q with the Q of clubs when the flop was K-8-3 all clubs. I ended up check-calling all streets just to see A-K.
Then I was being nice to fellow Norwegian Ove Stenberg that got a bit lucky against me. I was so sure he had nada and nothing until the river when he had check raised the turn on a board with 3-3-x. I had 7-7 and should have moved all in on the turn. The river was an ace and he moved all-in. I made a bad call and he showed A-Q. Blah.
I played semi tilted for a while and ended up busting with 5-6 of spades vs. 44. The flop had 7-8 and a spade in it and the turn was another spade, but no more help for me and I was out.
In stead I planned to join the other players at a BoM cocktail party at the Hilton next door. On my way down the stair I struck gold again when I met a bunch of anything but sober Norwegians with heroes like Stephan Kjerstad, Roar Aspås (my brother), and also my very good friend Åge Spets. The night was saved!
We went to one of the bars in town and we partied for a few hours. Preben Stokkan and Endre Sagstuen had a table at Hugo’s and the rest of the story is censored or forgotten.
Today is the real main event here at BOM, the BOM Official VIP Player Party. RIP Andreas!