The first European Poker Tour Main Event to be held in the tiny nation of Malta kicked off Sunday, as Day 1A of EPT Malta got underway at Portomaso Casino at the Hilton Hotel. It was a solid first day for the new event, with 260 players registering for the first flight. Nearly half were eliminated; just 142 made it to Tuesday’s Day 2. The chip leader is Greece’s Evangelos Tsairis with 180,300 chips, though he is trailed closely by Romania’s Ignat Liviu.
Tsairis is not a household name, but he has had his fair share of success on the live tournament circuit. According to his profile on TheHendonMob.com, he has won nearly a quarter of a million dollars, highlighted by a $171,886 score for a third place finish in the Championship Event of the 2013 Caesars Palace Mega Stack Series. He has had a few cashes on the European Poker Tour already this year – two at EPT Deauville and one in the fourth event here at EPT Malta.
The second place player, Ignat Liviu, is perhaps best known by his online moniker, “0human0.” For a number of years, he was a high flyer on PokerStars, amassing about $1.7 million in profits through the middle of 2012, based on records found at HighStakesDB.com. HighStakesDB has him on a bit of a rollercoaster ride after that, with his profits shooting way down to around $200,000 by the time records of his online cash game performances disappeared at the beginning of last year.
Malta is a natural fit for a European Poker Tour event, as it has become a major player in the gambling world over the years. It has much more relaxed gambling restrictions than neighboring countries – it is located in the Mediterranean Sea just a short flight from Sicily, Italy, Greece, and Tunisia, among other countries – which has attracted poker tournament organizers. In 2011, the government adjusted its tax structure to make Malta very attractive to online gaming companies, including instituting a 15 percent flat rate income tax on those who are employed in Malta but who do not count Malta as their country of residence. Many online gambling companies are now either based in Malta or, like PokerStars, have a license there.
Day 1B of the European Poker Tour Malta Main Event is already underway as another wave of players tries to make it to tomorrow’s Day 2 and continue the march to becoming Malta’s first EPT champion.
European Poker Tour Malta Main Event – Day 1A Chip Leaders
1. Evangelos Tsairis – 180,300
2. Ignat Liviu – 161,900
3. Thomas Berends – 144,200
4. Alexander Ivarsson – 138,300
5. Alec Torelli – 133,100
6. Thomas Muehloecker – 121,200
7. Ilkin Amirov – 116,000
8. John O’Shea – 114,200
9. Francois Billard – 110,000
10. Ryan Yu – 106,900
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