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The six-day long 2018 Battle of Malta Main Event attracted a record-breaking 3,816-strong field and ultimately crowned a champion in French-born Malta resident Julien Stropoli (cover image), who added €168,500 to his bankroll following a five-way deal.
Stropoli, who is a fresh face in the poker circuit, posted his first score last year at the PokerStars Festival Lille in the €550 No Limit Hold’em – PokerStars Super Deep where he placed sixth for €6,710. This latest win was not only his first-ever title win but also his best live score till date.
Stropoli had entered the final table as one of the shortest stacks and played exceptionally well to lock-in €118,500 following a five-way deal. Thereafter, Stropoli calmly continued his climb up the leaderboard until he found himself with the chip lead with only three players left in the fray. After eliminating Erik Ostergaard in third place, Stropoli had an overwhelming chip lead going into heads-up play and fought off a small charge from runner-up Maxime Canevet to finish things off.
Stropoli earned €168,500 for his win along with the dazzling Battle of Malta Main Event trophy, while Canevet walked away with the biggest share of the prize pool at €192,000.
“It feels totally amazing to win this,” Stropoli said just after his win, “because I was one of the shortest stacks at the start of the final table. At that point I was just hoping to make a few pay jumps – I didn’t expect to win.”
Talking about the turning point at the final table, Stropoli stated, “The turning point was my pocket sevens against Mateusz Moolhuizen’s AQ when I hit a 7 on the flop. That took me to third in chips and I knew then I had a shot. By the time we got to three-handed, I really wanted that trophy!”
With the top 570 places assured payouts, many notables finished in the money including Miikka Juhani Kettunen (11th for €19,000), Sofia Lovgren (19th for €9,500), Giuseppe Di Mauro (31st for €5,495), Andrea Musumarra (52nd for €4,300) and Antonio Mirabile (58th for €3,500).
John Hedley finished 10th for €19,000 and bubbled the final table.
Final Table Chip Counts
1. Maxime Canevet – 25,925,000
2. Andy Hills – 17,125,000
3. Mantas Urbonas – 15,900,000
4. Abdallah Fakhreddine – 9,700,000
5. Mateusz Moolhuizen – 8,625,000
6. Erik Ostergaard – 5,400,000
7. Gustav Vadenbring – 5,075,000
8. Julien Stropoli – 4,600,000
9. Jerry Mangum – 2,950,000
Final Table Recap
American old hand Jerry Mangum was the first to exit the nine-handed final table. He was the shortest stack on the table and moved all-in from small blind with . Holding , Mantas Urbonas called from the big blind. The dealer flipped over on the board and Urbonas rivered two pairs of tens and jacks to eliminate Mangum in ninth place.
Dutch pro Mateusz Moolhuizen had started the final table with the fifth-largest stack, but couldn’t make much headway in the first level. After losing a big pot to Julien Stropoli, Moolhuizen was left with only six big blinds. He jammed from under-the-gun with and Maxime Canevet called from the small blind with . The board ran and Canevet’s flopped pair of aces busted Moolhuizen’s pair of queens, leading to the latter`s eighth place exit.
Next to hit the rail was Gustav Vadenbring, who moved all-in with and Canevet called from the big blind holding . The completed the board and Canevet’s ten kicker busted Vadenbring out in seventh place.
Finishing in sixth place was Andy Hills. After Erik Ostergaard moved all-in from the hijack with , Hills called holding . The community cards fanned out and Ostergaard rivered a clubs flush to win the pot as Hills bounced out from the event.
Down to five-handed play, the clock was stopped for about half an hour to give the players a chance to discuss a deal. The players eventually came to an agreement, with Maxime Canevet getting €169,000, Erik Ostergaard taking €139,500, Mantas Urbonas receiving €121,500, Julien Stropoli claiming €118,500, while Fakhreddine Abdallah locked in €108,500. This left €73,000 to play for which would be distributed to first and second place finishers. The winner would receive €50,000 extra, and the runner-up would collect €23,000 more.
Following the deal, Abdallah Fakhreddine could not maintain his place at the felt for much longer and was sent to the rail when Canevet raised with and Abdallah shoved all-in with . Canevet quickly called and the runout was tabled which missed both players, ending Abdallah’s run in fifth place.
Lithuanian player Mantas Urbonas was down to just a couple of big blinds, but managed to double up twice against Erik Ostergaard, before falling at the hands of the Danish pro. Ostergaard opened with pocket rockets against Urbonas’ . The latter moved all-in and Ostergaard called. The board revealed . While Urbonas flopped a pair of queens, it wasn’t enough to beat Ostergaard’s , resulting in his fourth place elimination.
Just after the dinner break, Erik Ostergaard moved all-in from the button with and Stropoli called with . The board ran and Stropoli picked up a pair of queens on the flop to remove Ostergaard from the competition in third place.
Following Ostergaard’s departure, the heads-up play was set up between the two Frenchmen Julien Stropoli (76,000,000) and Maxime Canevet (20,000,000). Canevet tried hard to decrease the chip gap, but he was unable to prolong the inevitable for too long. On the final hand of the event, Stropoli opened with from the button and Canevet 3-bet from the big bling holding . The flop fell and Canevet fired another bet. Stropoli snap-called to see the turn . Stropoli, who had hit two pairs of fives and threes on the turn fired a big bet of 9 Million. Canevet moved all-in and Stropoli instantly called. The river did little to further Canevet`s cause and just like that Stropoli went on to win the 2018 Battle of Malta Main Event title for €168,500!
Final Table Results (EURO)
1. Julien Stropoli – €168,500*
2. Maxime Canevet – €192,000*
3. Erik Ostergaard – €139,500*
4. Mantas Urbonas – €121,500*
5. Abdallah Fakhreddine – €108,500*
6. Andy Hills – €53,000
7. Gustav Vadenbring – €41,000
8. Mateusz Moolhuizen – €30,000
9. Jerry Mangum – €23,000
*denotes five-way deal