The website of The Times of Malta hosts a regular feature named “Quake Watch“. The Maltese archipelago, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, is seen as especially vulnerable to seismic activity: any significant quiver across a region quite well known for its volcanoes will likely be felt here.
It might be worth dropping Quake Watch a letter this afternoon to warn them of what appears to be some large tremors emanating from the ground floor of Portomaso Casino. For the first time in as long as I can remember, a European Poker Tour festival is today hosting a re-buy event — a €5,000 re-buy event at that, with 15-minute levels — and the shockwaves of this all-action format are already rippling through this region.
When the tournament kicked off, at 1pm, there were 12 players seated. But word spread quickly to the various hotels in which the high rollers were at slumber. Pretty soon, there were 38 players and the first re-buy. And then the tournament officials began pondering opening another couple of tables.
“We’ve got no choice,” Jared Doyle, running the tournament, said. “We have to.”
While most eyes were focused on the Main Event, this corner of the tournament complex quickly became the most concentrated with talent. Vicente Delgado, Ole Schemion, Sorel Mizzi, Joao Barbosa and Nick Petrangelo were on one table. And when Delgado was knocked out, opting not to take a re-buy, Pratyush Buddiga moved in. Then Martin Finger.
Jeff Rossiter, Paul Newey and Daniel Dvoress were on another table. Stephen Chidwick sat with Adrian Mateos. Dani Stern, Tim Adams and Senh Ung were one further around, quickly joined by Anton Bertillson. The latter was a relatively late arrival, buying in during level three, but he soon settled in to the game and knocked out Stern (“Re-buy!”) and went on to amass a stack of more than 150,000 by the time the re-buy period closed.
That was nothing, however, compared with what Dzmitry Urbanovich was doing. The recent winner of the €25,000 Special High Roller has taken very comfortably to the tables of Malta. He had tripled his stack by the first time I saw him (in level four) and by level eight he had about 250,000. On the very last hand before the re-buy period closed, Urbanovich found A♠K♠ — a heaven-sent hand for anyone who has been playing every pot for the best part of two hours — and managed to felt Antonio Buonano.
“You have no chips, so you can have a double if you want!” the tournament official told Buonano, in one brilliant sentence stating the obvious, rubbing down an EPT champion and finding a silver lining. That’s quite some skill.
“One,” Buonano said, traipsing off to the cash desk.
The re-buy event was not without its teething troubles, specifically centred on the actual mechanics of getting a fresh stack to players who wanted to buy in via their PokerStars account. In contrast to a re-entry event, during which an eliminated player walks away from his or her chair, can take a brief constitutional if required, before coming back to a fresh seat draw, players in a re-buy tournament always stay in the same spot.
If their stack dips below 50,000, or is entirely extinguished, then they need to bellow “Re-buy!” to the tournament officials and will get another stack, which is immediately put into play. But they also need to pay for it, and unless they have €5,000 in cash to hand, they need to go to the desk to arrange a PokerStars transfer. It unfortunately meant that a couple of player missed big blinds while they were going to buy in.
“I guess I’m buying in once,” Salman Behbehani said when this was explained to him on his arrival to the tournament floor.
Flash forward about an hour and…”Re-buy,” Behbehani said.
It was, as you might expect, a little looser than most tournaments of this level. My notebook has a list of hands versus other hands that do not normally go head to head for a tournament player’s life. A♠6♠ took on K♥8♣ for a buy-in. Then K♠J♦ went up against 2♦2♣. With the rebuy period drawing to a close, Georgios Karakousis shoved with A♦6♦ and was knocked out by Bertilsson’s A♠J♥.
“How many times did you enter the 25K?” Anton Astapau asked Joao Vieira on a nearby table.
“Twice,” Vieira said.
“Me too,” Astapau said, “but I think this tournament is going to be more expensive.”
By the time the re-buy period was closed, the tournament board showed 55 unique players and 17 re-entries and a prize pool of more than €350,000. The tournament is expected to run until about 7.30pm, which represents a six-hour investment of time for potentially a six-figure payday.
How much you invest financially is largely up to you.
Quick tournament update: Daniel Dvoress and Dzmitry Urbanovich have found their way on to the same table again, having finished third and first, respectively, in the €25,000 event. Dvoress seems to have temporarily halted Urbanovich’s charge and now has a stack of about 390,000. Urbanovich still has about 200,000, mind you.
Follow all the action from EPT Malta on the main EPT Malta page. There’s action from the Main Event on the Main Event page, and information from the Italian Poker Tour event on the IPT page. You can also download the EPT App, available on both Android or IOS. You’ll never get a better apportunity.