When European Poker Tour officials announced their schedule earlier this year, there was a huge gap in the Season 11 roster of events. In that original schedule, there was a lack of any EPT action between a trip to Deauville, France, in January 2015 and the Grand Final in Monaco in April. That gap has been somewhat closed with the announcement last week of the newest stop on the EPT schedule.
From March 18-28 next year, the EPT will settle in at the Portomaso Casino in Malta for what will be the seventh festival on the Season 11 schedule. The EPT Malta Poker Festival, in conjunction with the Italian Poker Tour (both the IPT and the EPT are owned by PokerStars), should be a popular stop for many European and other international professionals due to the Island of Malta’s nearly pristine weather as well as the final opportunity to tune up for the Grand Final. The decision to head to Malta by the EPT wasn’t one that was taken lightly by EPT officials.
“After a great deal of discussion with players and colleagues, we decided it was time to add a fresh and exciting stop to the EPT schedule,” EPT President Edgar Stuchly noted in an announcement of the tournament festival. “Malta is a great destination for the EPT and we expect strong participation numbers.
The bosses at the Portomaso Casino are understandably pleased to have been chosen by the EPT for a stop on their circuit. Portomaso Casino general manager Eros Ganzina stated that the casino is “delighted and proud” to join forces with the EPT for the upcoming tournament. “Malta is renowned as being a very popular poker destination and, in the last five years, Portomaso Casino has proven to be more than capable of hosting large-scale events,” Ganzina added during the announcement. “The EPT is a landmark event for us and we are looking forward to hosting such a prestigious tournament.”
When the Season 11 schedule for the EPT was announced earlier this year, there was that inexplicable lull in the roster of events that was noted by many in the poker community. While maintaining their long-term relationships with tournaments in such locales as Barcelona, London, Prague, the Bahamas, Deauville and Monte Carlo, many in the poker community were puzzled at the names that weren’t on the list. Previous to Season 11, tournaments had been conducted in San Remo, Italy; Vienna, Austria; Dortmund and Berlin, Germany; Warsaw, Poland and many other locations in the February to April span that was blank for Season 11. In fact, the largest ever EPT tournament took place in San Remo in 2010, when Liv Boeree defeated a field of 1240 players to emerge as the champion.
Following the purchase of PokerStars by Amaya Gaming this summer, there were many who thought that the huge gap wouldn’t be filled as Amaya got on its feet in operating the massive PokerStars operation before attempting to put their stamp on one of the best tournament circuits in the world. Instead of allowing this gap to continue to exist, however, Amaya officials decided that Malta (which is also the home base for PokerStars.eu) would be an outstanding choice in bringing a new playing field for the players while also promoting their own brand.
Is it possible that there could be still one more event put into the Season 11 schedule for the EPT? With seven tournaments on the schedule for Season 11, it would be the fewest events for the EPT since their second season of existence (Season 10 featured an eight tournament roster, as did Season 9, while Seasons 7 and 8 traversed the European continent in making 13 stops). There is still a nice gap between the Deauville stop (January 28 through February 7) and the beginning of the Malta tournament on March 18, which could imply that Amaya Gaming and EPT officials may yet have one more treat to pull out for the poker community.