5 Things I’m Looking Forward to at the 2018 Malta Poker Festival

By Robbie Strazynski
October 30, 2018

In just a couple days, I’ll be jetting off to sunny Malta for the inaugural Malta Poker Festival, and I’ll be in attendance until November 6. I feel very fortunate to say that this will be my sixth poker trip of 2018, after visits to Los Angeles, Las Vegas (twice), Bucharest, and Barcelona. Even with all those miles flown, travel for poker never gets stale, and there’s plenty that I’m looking forward to on this upcoming trip to the Mediterranean island nation. In no particular order, here are the top five items on my list.

Malta Poker Festival

Playing in a Poker Tournament

I very rarely get the opportunity to play in poker tournaments, and have played in less than a handful over the last decade. Earlier this year, the Hendon Mob announced that it would for the first time be hosting a poker tournament with its own branding at the Malta Poker Festival. The €250 buy-in represents an affordable price point and I have a feeling that this will be a uniquely fun event to participate in. Alternatively, there’s also the €275 Israeli Poker Championship Tournament that I might opt to play instead.

I’ve essentially never competed in tournaments, so I don’t have a Hendon Mob results page to speak of. As such, it would be pretty cool to have my first result be either one with the special new Hendon Mob “flag” or a cash in my “home country’s” event. Of course, though chances are slim, I’ll certainly be gunning for a winner’s photo, too.

Israeli Poker Championship

Exploring the Island(s)

Though it’s only about a 3-hour flight from where I live, I’ve never yet had the pleasure of visiting Malta. I’ve spent a good amount of time Googling “things to do in Malta” and the attractions seem quite intriguing and eclectic. While it’s a tiny country (a little over 300 square km), I hadn’t realized that it was made up of multiple islands and featured numerous different areas, including St. Julian’s, Sliema, Mdina, and others.

For such a small place, it’s quite densely populated (about half a million people) and has a very rich history and culture, which I’m hoping to learn more about via a guided walking tour and hop on-hop off bus tour.

Malta map

Malta | Image credit: Lonely Planet

Meeting Ivonne Montealegre

If, after reading that name, your immediate thought was “who?” you wouldn’t be alone. When I first heard Ivonne’s name, just a few months ago, it didn’t ring any bells either. She’s the driving force behind the Malta Poker Festival, but she’s certainly not new to the poker scene. The Costa Rican native is exceptionally proud of her adoptive home, in Malta, where she’s now lived for a number of years. As the festival has approached, her name has come up in the poker press more and more often, and it’s clear she’s been working round the clock behind the scenes to ensure “her baby’s” debut is a huge success.

She’s clearly unafraid to put herself out there and I for one hope that her work inspires more women to get into the game of poker, whether as players or on the industry side of things.

My Birthday, My Wife, My Vacation

It just so happens that my birthday falls out right in the middle of the trip, on November 3. As such, I thought I’d be giving myself a nice present by bringing my wife, Miriam, along. The two of us haven’t had a vacation without our kids for quite a while, and Malta is a great, nearby destination to visit at this (or any) time of year. Traveling alone for a poker trip is always fun, but it’s extra special when you get to share the experiences with your beloved. What more could a guy ask for?

Robbie and Miriam

There’s nobody who looks better wearing the Cardplayer Lifestyle patch than my wife, Miriam.

Cash Games

Of the approximately 270 hours I’ve played poker this year, just a little over 150 of them have been played in cash games abroad, netting me a profit of about $2,000 for a decent hourly rate (I am a low-stakes recreational player after all). Between doing media work, exploring Malta with Miriam, and a (hopefully lengthy amount of time playing in the) tournament, I don’t know exactly when I’ll be finding the time to squeeze in some more hours at the cash game tables, but you can be sure it’ll happen. Who needs sleep anyway, right? 🙂



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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