All about the poker industry in Malta
Over the past decade, many professional players have made Malta their home. In January 2015, the island hosted season 5 of the House of Bluff, filmed from the impressive Villa Rosa overlooking St George’s beach. Online or live players, cash or tournaments, homely or festive… We tell you why Malta is an ideal destination in the poker world.
The Poker Industry in Malta
Poker has really been democratised over the last twenty years, especially in Malta where more and more French and more generally European expatriates find themselves, attracted by the very low tax rate. Online players (on the internet) and live players (directly in the casino) exchange and progress together in French or in English, as the language remains the second official language of the country after Malti. Four casinos offer daily tournaments with buy-ins starting from 25 euros, or cash games from 1 to 2 euros per blind.
Living conditions for poker players in Malta
Malta’s nightlife, 365 days a year (except during pandemic periods…), is particularly adapted to the lifestyle of the poker player who tends to adjust his schedule to those of international tournaments taking place mostly in the evening because of the time difference.
It is also convenient in terms of food. The online player will appreciate being able to have his meals delivered to his home at any time of the day or night. The choice of cuisine is also very popular, with the great classics of pizza and sushi, but also burgers and kebabs, as well as an increasingly healthy choice. In fact, in Malta, many brands oriented towards a healthier diet are constantly being established. Thus, the poker player will necessarily find the food that suits him.
Do not hesitate to consult the advice sheet dedicated to delivery services.
Landscapes and activities
Living in Malta as a poker player is a bit of a paradise: the sea nearby, parties every day contrasting with the calm of the countryside, colleagues never far away… The archipelago is as popular with the youngest players for its summer parties and its thirsty district – Paceville – as it is with the over-thirty’s who over the years have started their families and found Malta a favourable setting for this. Party people enjoy the many beach clubs, open-air concerts, boat parties, nightclubs, shisha bars, rooftops, etc. However, even if you are not a party lover, you will find something to suit you in Malta: sports complexes, excursions, hiking, water sports, quad biking, cultural visits, beaches, restaurants, boat trips…
The fact that the island is small means that poker players and other professionals in the industry such as dealers, streamers and other gamblers are concentrated in a fairly small area. This creates a microcosm feeling and gives the impression of being in a kind of poker city. They all meet and talk to each other frequently, creating a constant buzz of excitement. This stimulation decreases as soon as the poker player chooses to move away. Which brings us to the next point.
Poker players’ accommodation in Malta
The majority of poker players live in the areas most frequented by expats: Sliema, San Giljan and now Msida, Gzira. Others settle in the north of the island, towards Mellieha, San Pawl. Those who are less tempted by the nightlife are packing their bags in Gozo. The price of accommodation depends on the location chosen. Rents increase a little more each year (except during the pandemic period) but the cost of living remains lower than in the majority of large cities in France. Shared accommodation is common, particularly for professional reasons. It is therefore not uncommon to enter the den of three or four poker players as well as marketers, streamers, dropshippers, etc. This not only reduces the cost of rent while enjoying a larger or better located flat, but also allows for constant conversation on the subject which poker players love to do: discuss hands, “rail” each other, etc.
Playing online in Malta
Players who moved to Malta around 2012 will have done so in order to continue playing on the “.com”. By this I mean the platforms where players from all over the world meet and play international tournaments. Indeed, at the same time, France decided to restrict online gaming to “.fr” sites, i.e. to French-speaking players only or those with access to French sites. Metropolitan players were suddenly restricted and forced to give up the huge international platform. This meant less traffic and less winnings for those who were beginning to make it a regular source of income as the prize pools on the international scene are greater than the simple room setting of the FR game. The poker player in Malta can therefore work on French platforms such as Winamax, PMU, as well as international ones such as Pokerstars, Partypoker, GG Poker, etc.
Casinos in Malta
There are four casinos in Malta where poker tournaments and cash game sessions are played daily:
This sumptuous casino housed in the majestic classical Dragonara Palace has been in operation since 1964, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It has 15 live tables, a splendid poker room with sea view. Located at the tip of the St. Julian’s peninsula called “Tad-Dragun” which is accessed through a magnificent original arch. It reads in Latin Deus Nobis Haec Nobia Fecit which means “God has made this recreation for us” Perfectly appropriate. A walk along the prestigious bay view restaurants – among the best rated in Malta – and the pink painted Westin follows. Finally, at the end of the road, the magnificent building erected in 1870, former summer residence of the Marquis Scicluna, transformed into a makeshift hospital during the first world war, a refugee shelter during the second, is today a temple of gambling.
Address: Dragonara Casino
Dragonara Palace, Dragonara Road, St Julian’s STJ3143
Expats will be familiar with Portomaso and its splendid arched marina which links the recently completed artificial lagoon to the Hilton hotel complex. Before you reach the main entrance to the luxury hotel, look to the left. This is where you enter the 4000 square metre casino with its four poker areas, hosting daily cash games from 6.30pm and daily tournaments from 5pm on weekends and 8pm on weekdays. Buy-ins start at €25. Having hosted its first international poker tournament in 2008, Portomaso Casino has made its mark on the European scene. Pokerstars, Unibet, Betsson and Betpro have entrusted Portomaso Casino with hosting their live events.
Address: Portomaso Casino
Level -1 Portomaso Business Tower, St. Julians, STJ4011 Malta
Tel: (+356) 2138 3777
Located in the heart of Paceville, this 3,000 square metre gaming sanctuary has ten poker tables. Casino Malta is the newest of the four, but has nothing to envy them. In fact, it is the most frequented by poker players.
Address: Casino Malta
Casino Malta, Eden Place, St Augustine’s Street, St George’s Bay, St Julians, Malta
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Tel: (+356) 23 710 555
While the first three are concentrated in the same city, you will find the Oracle Casino in the north of Malta, in the seaside area of San Pawl. Located within the Dolmen Hotel, just a stone’s throw from the Café del Mar and the Aquarium, the establishment hosts omaha (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and holdem (weekends) tournaments from €25 (re entries).
Address: Oracle Casino
Oracle Casino Malta, Dolmen Hotel Malta, Dawret -il – Gzejer, San Pawl il-Baħar
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Tel: (+356) 2157 0057
Live casinos are a cross between land-based establishments and online-only gaming platforms. Indeed, the player plays from the comfort of his home or via his phone, but it is a real croupier who will deal the cards. The participants are human, the cards are real, the table is real and so is the casino, but the games are played remotely. A slightly more interactive way to play as everything is filmed in streaming which allows players to follow the action live. The most popular live casino platform based in Malta is of course Evolution Gaming.
Poker events in Malta
Here we will ignore this particular health period limiting the general public events and talk about the time when festivals and other poker gatherings were regularly held in Malta. Mention was made of the fifth edition of the House of Bluff in the preamble. It is not a recurrent event, but on its scale, its diffusion will have aroused a significant interest for the island. The splendid Villa Rosa hosted the filming. The other events will take place in casinos, hotels and gambling companies.
BOM – Battle of Malta
The Battle of Malta – commonly referred to as BOM – has taken place every year in the autumn since 2012. It was for a long time hosted by the InterContinental Business Centre but Casino Malta has since taken over. It is a week-long festival that attracts a huge number of European players. In 2019 the huge number of tournament entries resulted in a record prizepool of €2.2 million.
Malta Poker Festival
This meeting of Holdem players also takes place every year in the autumn, hosted by the Portomaso Casino. A dozen tournaments during one week
UDSO is the acronym for Unibet Deep Stack Open. As you can see, it is the online sports betting, casino and poker platform UNIBET that is behind this tournament. Its head office is in Gzira but it is still the Portomaso Casino that hosts this tournament, which costs around €500 to enter. It usually takes place in late February or early March.
Siege of Malta
Poker festival held by Casino Malta during April.
Training for poker jobs
Many French professional poker players offer to train you through personal coaching or access to their instructional videos. Yoh Viral is the best known on the island but he is not the only one. For those who wish to train as a croupier, certified training is available through some schools such as the OLCA (Online Live Casino Academy in Gzira). Casinos also offer pre-employment courses such as Evolution Gaming. Finally, many online casino platforms offer jobs as streamers and therefore player/hosts in order to promote themselves.
In summary, Malta is the ideal destination for any French speaking poker player, beginner or confirmed, young or old, single or in couple. You will find everything you need and a large and close-knit community. We hope to see you soon. Until then, remember that poker is an addictive game with financial and mental health risks. Play mela.