EPT12 Malta: The Big Game goes Italian

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The Big Game returns at EPT Malta

Anybody really new to poker might not have encountered The Big Game, a made-for-television poker show that first aired in 2010. It was attractive for its format, which was appealing to recreational amateurs and professionals alike, and is still remembered fondly by its co-host, Joe Stapleton, who has since gone on to be a fixture on coverage of the European Poker Tour.

The Big Game was essentially a high-stakes cash game, as popularised by High Stakes Poker, but with one amateur player thrown in among the sharks. The so-called "Loose Cannon" was given a bankroll by PokerStars, the show's sponsor, with which to gamble, but any profit made was his or hers to keep.


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The Loose Cannon element livened things up, with the pros trying to figure out the best approach to relieve the less-experienced player of his or her (sponsor's) money. Most players bent over backwards to make the newcomer welcome, which worked both as good entertainment but also to butter up the visitor. In some memorable cases the Loose Cannon fought back.

It's been a while since the Big Game was on English-speaking TV (every episode is still available on PokerStars.tv) but here in Malta we were treated to a blast from the past when our Italian hosts recorded two episodes.

The producers invited some of the game's biggest international names to play, which explains the presence of Jake Cody and Kevin MacPhee in the two heats, while the well-known Italian players Dario Sammartino and Umberto Vitaglioni also participated.

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Kevin MacPhee: A non-Italian

An edited version of the show will likely appear on Italian TV in the coming months, with commentary from Luca Pagano, but they streamed live as they were being recorded, which gave everybody across the world a chance to see the warts-and-all version.

Rene Velli, our photographer, was handed an Access All Areas pass to the recordings, and a gallery of photos is below. If you want to know who won what, then you can also scroll to the very bottom of this post for the final standings. Players began with €10,000 stacks and could re-load if required.

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Gianluca Irpino: Heat 1's Loose Cannon

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Jake Cody joins the Italian sharks

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Dario Sammartino: Italian poker's poster boy

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Francesco Cipolleschi and Kevin MacPhee: A Loose Cannon and a WSOP winner

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Eros Nastasi, Umberto Vitagliono and Clavio Anzalone

Big Game Italy results

Heat 1

SeatPlayerReloadFinal stackProfit/loss
1Dario Sammartino € 12,320€ 2,320
2Cristian Favale€ 5,000€ 11,675-€ 3,325
3Jake Cody € 9,835-€ 165
4Pasquale Braco € 9,475-€ 525
5Davide Suriano€ 10,000€ 16,845-€ 3,155
6Gianluca IrpinoLoose Cannon€ 14,850€ 4,850

Heat 2

SeatPlayerReloadFinal stackProfit/loss
1Francesco CipolleschiLoose Cannon€ 0-€ 10,000
2Kevin MacPhee€ 8,000€ 23,660€ 5,660
3Yohan Viral€ 10,000€ 17,375-€ 2,625
4Eros Nastasi € 23,375€ 13,375
5Umberto Vitagliono€ 12,000€ 14,265€ 7,735
6Clavio Anzalone € 11,325€ 1,325

Everything about EPT Malta is on the main EPT Malta page. More specifically, all the hand-by-hand coverage of the Main Event is on the Main Event page and everything from the side events is on the side events page.

No really, begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour