From the beginning, it seemed a little ambitious to do an interview with Ivonne Montealegre, the tireless organizer of the Malta Poker Festival, one of Europe’s most ‘happening’, buzzing, non-stop, enormous real money poker extravaganzas.
Anyone who has attended one of these events will be fully aware of the vast size and continual buzz; the apparently annoying “clink” of thousands of poker chips is really a reassuring, almost rhythmic comfort in a charged and thrilling environment that is exclusive to large-scale poker festivals. The Malta Poker Festival, which began yesterday and featured a €500,000 GTD Main Event backed by partypoker (one of several poker companies and “entities” engaged in the MPF), is a perfect example of this situation.
The ability to run poker festivals with hundreds of eager competitors from all over the world and from all walks of life, with egos and nerves at their most raw, is made possible by the dedication and enormous effort of the people who organize them, just as a swan’s beautifully graceful movement is the ultimate metaphor for serene expertise, the picture of elegance in motion a stark contrast to the hidden level of activity beneath the water’s surface. And Ivonne Montealegre is the band’s leader.
This ideal of tranquility and prosperity at the Portomaso Casino Malta, a superb poker room in a beautiful environment in St Julian’s, is in large part because to MPF founder Ivonne Montealegre. The Malta Poker Festival is a success because of her determination, attention to detail, awareness of how to improve poker’s overall image, and willingness to make the game more than just a chance to earn money.
This week has a ton of events in addition to the Megabucks Main Event. Fans of mixed games, for example, may participate in the €230 buy-in Robbie Strazynski-hosted HORSE Powered by Cardplayer Lifestyle event, which is an usual lovely touch from Ivonne Montealegre.
Katie Swift, a well-known poker player and advocate, will host the €100 buy-in Ladies First! tournament on the 29th as the next participant. It should be noted that Ivonne also serves as the WPA’s International Affairs Director, making the topic of women in poker in particular a priority for the MPF’s creator.
The Malta Poker Festival has no bubble issues!
With the aid of MPF partner Luxon Pay, a worldwide e-wallet service provider whose Luxon Pay app provides players with an incredibly simple method to get into live poker tournaments and games, even the horror tale that is the feared “Bubble” has been handled by Montealegre and her crew. Players who pay into ANY MPF events (except satellites) using Luxon Pay will have their buy-in reimbursed should they be eliminated on the Bubble thanks to the company’s Bubble Insurance!
As an unique reward for the ultimate winner of the €500,000 GTD Grand Event, Luxon Pay has teamed up with the Malta Poker Festival and the World Poker Tour (WPT) to provide a WPT Prime Package for the WPT World Championship at the Wynn Las Vegas, December 8–12, as well. The package consists of a $1,100 buy-in to the $2 Million GTD tournament, $1,300 in travel costs, and a $1,600 hotel package.
The unique €150 buy-in Win the Spooky Cross competition, presented by Ivonne Montealegre herself, will finally take place on October 31 to round off the MPF in a manner befitting its Halloween-themed theme.
The interview, too? The MPF speaks for itself, so it turns out that we didn’t need the customary questions and answers this time.
Ivonne is obviously passionate about what she does, however, as I should note given that I’ve already met her and our most recent phone conversation. She did want to mention how she hopes the MPF will be a welcome experience after the last few years or so of COVID and its implications, that the festival is bigger and better than ever, with new events and new elements, and that the weather right now in Malta is “gorgeous” (much to my envy, as I looked out of my window in Glasgow to see a typical vista of a dark daytime sky through driving rain). You wish you were present. Of course I do.