The first-ever European Poker Tour Malta, an 11-day festival that includes a €1,100 Italian Poker Tour Main Event, will take place at Portomaso Casino from March 18-28, 2015. The sixth stop of Season 12 will culminate in a €5,300 Main Event, and in preparation for that event we've decided to offer some tips and recommendations for those that like to play fantasy poker on the Global Poker Index Fantasy Poker Manager.
So what qualifies me to talk about fantasy poker? Well, back in 2010 I won the famed ESPN Fantasy Poker League, and before that, when that particular facet of the poker industry was still in its infancy, I wrote the first monthly magazine article dedicated to fantasy poker (it appeared in the now-defunct Poker Pro Magazine). Finally, I currently sit 17th out of 57,949 teams in the Fantasy Poker Manager GPI League. So that's my résumé.
Oh, and I also have a World Series of Poker gold bracelet, so I know a thing or two about this game.
With that said, here are a few things I always consider when setting my fantasy poker lineup.
Make Sure Your Players Will Actually Be Playing
I've said it before and I'll say it again, choosing players that don't play the event is an amateur mistake. That said, it's not always easy to know who will be playing what events, at least not too far in advance. In the case of EPT Malta, poker fans have a little notice as the stop will also coincide with the inaugural Global Poker Masters (GPM), which is a country-based poker championship that will see players from the eight top-ranked countries in the GPI (USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Russia, France, Italy, and Ukraine) compete against each other.
The rosters for those teams have been announced, so it's a safe bet those players will be there. They're already among the world's best, so choosing them for your fantasy poker lineup is a smart move. Guys like Stephen Chidwick, Marvin Rettenmaier, Ole Schemion, Sorel Mizzi, Benjamin Pollak, and Ivan Soshnikov will all be there, so in this particular events there's no shortage of superstars to choose from.
Wait Until the Last Minute to Set Your Lineup
This is what separates the experienced fantasy poker players from the amateurs. Fantasy Poker Manager rules allow players to set their lineup up to the start of Day 2, at least for most events. That means you can peruse the top chip stacks in the PokerNews Live Reporting section and set your lineup accordingly.
Those who wait for the Day 1 chip counts to set their lineups are generally going to choose the bigger stacks. It’s a wise move, and your lineup should largely consist of these players. However, you'll also want to sprinkle in some sleeper picks. Go a little further down the chip counts and find some players you think will go deep. This ensures your lineup will differentiate itself from the masses, and in the instances when your picks pan out, you'll score major points.
Have a Default Plan to Fall Back On
If you don't have time to scour the chip counts before the start of Day 2, then just go with your gut. Find out who will be playing and set a lineup. The worst thing you can do is not set one, because then you have no chance at scoring points. If you fill out your roster, even with random players, at least you'll have a shot at scoring some points. "Set it and forget it" is not the ideal strategy for fantasy poker, but it is better than nothing.
Three Picks to Consider
Here are three players I expect to be at the EPT Malta (they're all part of their respective country's 2015 Global Poker Masters National Team) and that I highly recommend you consider for your team.
Jack Salter: I first met Jack Salter on the EPT, and I was so impressed I wrote a feature on him telling the poker world to watch out. Sure enough, a few months later he finished runner-up in the 2014 EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo for $1,058,369, and then seven months after than finished runner-up in the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific Main Event for $448,714. He's coming into his own, and in my opinion well worth a spot on your roster.
Mike McDonald: The man known as "Timex" will be representing Canada in the GPM. That's not surprising considering he sits third on his home country's all-time money list. McDonald made his name on the EPT when he won the EPT German Open in Dortmund for $1,370,161 back in 2008. More recently, he finished runner-up to Phil Ivey in the 2015 Aussie Millions AU$250,000 LK Boutique Challenge for $1,235,228, which was his fourth-largest career score.
Pratyush Buddiga: You might be surprised to learn that Buddiga is Colorado's all-time money leader, though that isn't where you'll find him playing these days. Instead, Buddiga has been jet setting around the world and finding quite a bit of poker success. As far as the EPT is concerned, he finished seventh in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure back in January for $203,420.
Don't forget to set your fantasy poker lineup for the EPT Malta and then sweat your team right here on PokerNews. Our Live Reporting team will be bringing you updates from the €5,300 Main Event from March 22-28, as well as the €25,500 High Roller from March 18-20 and €10,300 High Roller from March 26-28.