The Malta Poker Festival (MPF) is just over a month away from its fabulous return at the Portomaso Casino from April 24 to May 1.
The €300,000 guaranteed MPF €550 Grand Event is easily the festival’s highlight. However, players will also be traveling for the dozens of side events including the €150 Ladies First! on Saturday, April 29.
MPF founder Ivonne Montealegre has always supported both ladies’ events, evidenced by her acting as the Women’s Poker Association (WPA) International Affairs Director and inclusiveness in her festival with many players acting as hosts for the side events.
She met both objectives with WPA Advocate Chris Read acting as a host of the Ladies First! In addition, Poker Power, whose mission is to teach women business and life skills through poker, will be on hand with the VP of the WPA and the Poker Power Director of Education and Technology AJ Rudolph hosting a poker session free to all those that enter the Ladies First! hours before the event.
The Ladies First! provides a full day of fun for all women in attendance as the MPF will be hosting a Valletta City Tour for just €35 just after breakfast at 10:45 a.m (tickets available on MainEventTravel.com). Poker Power will then be hosting an interactive poker seminar at 1 p.m. that is free for all the women that enter the Ladies First! Of course, the Ladies First! then kicks off at 4 p.m. and it will be big based on the recent Ladies First! events that attracted 75 entries in the Spring of 2022 and 100 entries in the Autumn. Register today, you can buy-in to the Ladies First! event (along with the Grand Event, High Roller and many others) on MainEventTravel.com today and save yourself time exchanging currency and carrying cash around.
Both ladies and more will be flying across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States. And from the U.K. we know PokerStars Live at The Hippodrome Casinon London's Director of Poker Kerryjane Craigie will be in attendance, along with Hippodrome Ladies Club Package winner Sophie Gathercole, MainEventTravel.com's Retail Sales & Marketing Consultant Kelly Saxby, who is a former Hippodrome London Ambassador, and more will be heading to Malta for poker, and sun!
Our first article in this series will focus on learning more about Read and her involvement in both women’s poker and the MPF. This will be followed up with another dedicated piece about Rudolph and her involvement in women’s poker and how Poker Power is adding tremendous value to all the ladies in attendance at the MPF.
Path to WPA Began with a Chance Meeting
Chris Read had an incredible year last year on the felts and is aptly the host of the Ladies First! event not only because she won the 2022 MPF Spring Edition Ladies First! for €1,700 after agreeing to a heads-up deal with MPF founder Ivonne Montelegre but also due to her involvement at the WPA and for women in poker in general.
Read won a handful of other events throughout the year and was consistently on the podium for ladies-only events. Her biggest cash came in the summer when she agreed to a heads-up deal with Debora Brooke before becoming the last lady standing out of a field of 218 entries to win the $450 LIPS Ladies Championship in Las Vegas.
Read has been involved with ladies’ poker initiatives for many years including starting the ladies-only Facebook group Poker Queens designed to cheerlead and mentor women in poker that has grown to more than 2,500 members. However, Read wasn’t always heavily involved in the WPA as she is today and it all began with a chance encounter with three of the most recognizable names in poker.
“Years ago, I played cash poker and happened to stumble onto a tournament,” Read began. “And that's when I met Lupe Soto, Linda Johnson, and Jan Fisher, who later became very pivotal. Lupe was the first president of the WPA. When she very first was starting, I was very excited about having something structured with a nonprofit organization where ladies could come together to promote each other, share ideas, and, just kind of bring more women into poker. I think that's what, back then what several of us all wanted to do. I was living in Georgia at the time and became the Georgia advocate for the Women's poker Association. Now I'm in Biloxi, Mississippi, and I'm the advocate for Louisiana and Mississippi.”
Many of us can relate to how poker is our passion but not all of us including this author can put ourselves in the shoes of an aspiring female player. Read shares how awesome how WPA not only facilitates friendship but also allows women to be more comfortable at the tables with an incredible support team.
“Poker has always been a passion of mine and I know how hard it was for me to break into it, and to find support,” Read explained. “I just think it's awesome that there's a group out there that promotes women and tries to get more women into it and just all support each other. Because it is difficult being a woman playing in a man's world per se with men being 95% of the people at the poker tables. So, we have our unique challenges. Even in the way that we are perceived, and the way that we are called downlight. Or, you know, just different, it's just different. So, the WPA has just been an awesome group of ladies. They've got the Raise It Up initiative and the Purple Tie Guy initiative, which is trying to recruit, not just guys, but operators at different casinos in different series, to say that they will stand behind the ladies in poker, and they'll enforce the no harassment at the table and things like that. So WPA is just an awesome outlet for all of that.”
Read Impressed by the MPF and Excited to Host the Ladies First!
Chris Read was impressed by her experience at the MPF and, of course, she had some success by winning the Ladies First! event.
“I hope that lots and lots of ladies come and play and that it's a really fun and entertaining experience for them,” Read said about the Ladies First! at the Malta Poker Festival. “I know last year was great. We had champagne toasts and everybody just had a really fun, sisterhood, you know, kind of experience. There are a lot of ladies that I was looking forward to playing with that I had heard about or seen in Vegas, and I knew that they were from the UK and from Europe. You know, I was curious to see how they played differently from me, because a lot of different areas of the world, things are just a little bit different. And it was just a fabulous experience last year. And you know, Ivonne was just terrific. We wound up heads up, wound up making a deal. And I got first and it was just wonderful. I hope that we duplicate and do even better this year.”
Read is thrilled about Poker Power and the “awesome” AJ Rudolph hosting a poker training seminar before adding her excitement about ladies coming from far and near to the Malta Poker Festival.
“I’ve been talking with a lot of the US ladies and some of the UK and European ladies that are coming back this year or coming for the very first time and just super excited to help host them they're in Malta,” shared Read. “I was very impressed with the whole festival last year and the way it was run. The country is beautiful and I just really had a wonderful time. And so, when Ivonne asked me if I would do this, I was just elated, very honored, and super stoked to even have a bigger and better Ladies First! this year. And heck yeah, I want to win I would love to go back-to-back. I'm looking forward to hosting and really making it a great experience for the other ladies and for just having a really fun tournament.”
We wish the best of luck to Read in Malta and look forward to her hosting the Ladies First!
Head to Malta in Style with Main Event Travel
Main Event Travel has your back with a variety of exclusive, discounted VIP Packages at 5* Hilton Malta or 4* Cavalieri Art Hotel that include:
We also have fantastic Hotel only offers including breakfast. These Special Offer rates are currently discounted by €20-€400, and all VIP Packages and Special Offer rooms come with free cancellation until April 10 if your plans change!
Of course, we can help you book your flight as well as work to tailor a package that suits your needs..
2023 Malta Poker Festival Spring Edition Schedule can be found here, start planning today!
Photo Credit: Poker Deals, Malta Poker Festival
Photo Credit: Poker Deals, Malta Poker Festival