The Festival Malta Smashes Records as 50 Poker Champions Crowned

  • Martin ‘Franke’ von Zweigbergk has brought his Festival Series to Malta for the first time
  • The Malta event smashed Series records, including 79 entries for The Sviten Special
  • Variety was high, with a range of poker games, roulette, and even slots events on offer
  • Champions included Beate Etim, Cory Desmond, Gerhard Brimmers, and Oystein Brenden
The Festvial in Malta
The Festival Series in Malta crowned 50 worthy poker champions while breaking multiple records for entries.

Franke’s secret sauce

After eight days and 50 events, that’s a wrap for The Festival Series Malta. Martin ‘Franke’ von Zweigbergk brought his tour to the Mediterranean archipelago, where it will no doubt return next year given the huge uptake for what is a different kind of poker experience. 

Franke’s secret sauce is how he caters to the lovers of mixed games

The big one was the €550 ($594) Main Event of course, won by Oystein Brenden of Norway for €60,700 ($65,590) but Franke’s secret sauce is how he caters to the lovers of mixed games, embraces a cross-over with the casino games and puts a lot of thought into fun off-the-tables adventures. 

The focus is very much on player experience as The Festival attracts people from all over Europe with the help of Unibet Poker and its other partners. As someone who has attended numerous iterations of The Festival down the years, I can honestly say that the only bad thing about them is having to listen to Franke gloat loudly when he cashes a tournament or wins some money in a cash game (the maniac literally goes from room to room to announce these things.)

Records smashed

In the opening days of The Festival Malta, records were smashed. The Sviten Special event got 79 entries, an astonishing effort when you consider that only 28 people in the world know how to play it. The 8-Game event got 93 players, another huge feat. 

Not to be outdone, the Texas Hold’em players also came out in force with The  €250 ($270) PokerListings Championship also breaking attendance records with a whopping 354 participants, generating a prize pool of €76,464 ($82,619). Younes Jarir defeated Manuel Blaschke heads-up in that one to claim the €16,200 ($17,504) top prize. 

Lovelock ultimately finished sixth for €3,250 ($3,512)

Another noteworthy performance in the Pokerlistings Championship was that of Colin Lovelock, the UK regular, who made the final table and was in pursuit of back-to-back victories, having taken down the Nottingham edition back in March. Lovelock ultimately finished sixth for €3,250 ($3,512). 

Variety is the buzzword 

If there is a theme to The Festival, it is that there is no theme. Variety is the buzzword and, as a player, it makes for a very eclectic poker experience. There were plenty of PLO action, 4-card, 5-card, 6-card, and PLO8 formats all spread at different points in the week. There was a €1,100 ($1,189) PLO Highroller that got 60 runners and was won by Levani Rozomashvili who took away €15,400 ($16,641) after a fierce heads-up chip with Balazs Somodi.

There was a ‘Win The Button’ tournament, a HORSE tournament, a Heads-up tournament, and multiple Open-face Chinese Poker tournaments. There was even a Roulette Tournament, a Blackjack Tournament, and a Slots Tournament for those who enjoy a casino game cross-over. 

Beate Etim defeated Christel Haller to take down the 47-runner Ladies Event

There was a Queens Ladies Event and a Seniors Event, the former hosted by Laura Cornelius and the latter infiltrated by Franke despite him being a youthful-looking 49-year-old. Beate Etim defeated Christel Haller to take down the 47-runner Ladies Event while Gerhard Brimmers defeated Dieter Falzon heads-up to win the Seniors Event.

Quality and quantity 

‘Quality over quantity’ is a motto to live by, but The Festival manages to provide both. Sure, there are some sacrifices. With seven or eight different tournaments starting every day, it would be fair to say that they cannibalize each other. Nonetheless, there are marquee tournaments that players plan their festival around. 

One such tournament is the €1,100 ($1,189) High Roller which attracted a field of 70 entries to generate a prize pool of €67,200 ($72,612). The talented Welshman Cory Desmond prevailed in that one after a heads-up deal with Domenico Zappia where they received €18,000 ($19,450) and €17,500 ($18,909), respectively.

the big €5,000 ($5,401) bounty was won by Marcel Fandre

Mystery Bounty tournaments are all the rage these days with festivals incorporating one or two of them to inject a bit of lottery into proceedings. That is not to say that it isn’t a skill game requiring strategic adjustments. Shoutout to my VegasSlotsOnline News colleague Dara O’Kearney who just published a strategy book on the format. Find his top tips in his latest article too. The Mystery Bounty at The Festival got 202 entries and the big €5,000 ($5,401) bounty was won by Marcel Fandre. 

The Hendon Mob Championship was another tournament that possessed added allure, for some at least:

That is, of course, until you experience the view from the rail:

The Hendon Mob championship was eventually won by popular Norwegian Jonas Engedal who defeated Danielle Coroneo heads-up to scoop the €6,100 ($6,590) first prize. 

Brenden wins the Main Event 

Come Sunday, all eyes were on the business end of the Main Event. There had been 617 entries across five Day 1s, 95 of whom made the money but it all boiled down to 16 combatants on the final day. George Sandford was in the booth all day, providing expert commentary as the action came thick and fast:

In the end, it was Oystein Brenden who emerged victorious, an almost wire-to-wire performance as he finished Day 1 second in chips and Day 2 as the chip-leader. As has become tradition at The Festival, a sketched picture of Brenden will be commissioned and no doubt given pride of place in the Banco Casino in Bratislava where the next stop will be held between November 27 and December 3. 

Festival Series Malta Main Event final table results 

1Brenden OysteinNorway€60,700
2Balazs SomodiHungary€40,500
3Luigi D’AlterioItaly€27,900
4Dario BaroneItaly€20,300
5Stian NostdahlNorway€14,560
6Andreas HolmstenSweden€10,950
7Matthew MicallefMalta€8,350
8Gytis JuskeviciusLithuania€6,250
9Mischa WietenNetherlands€5,150

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *