Well what a week that was. Seven days, 50 events, thousands of players, €603,725 in the prizepool for the big one, and one brand new champion: the Netherlands’ Michel Molenaar, who bested a field of 1,271 entries to claim the largest ever tournament payout in Slovakian poker history, the coveted personalised trophy, and a place in The Festival’s history.
The Festival in Bratislava once again descended on Banco Casino in the heart of Slovakia’s capital city in 2022, running from October 10-17. Presided over by Sweden’s loudest farmer, Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk, The Festival comprised a round-the-clock packed schedule of poker events with buy-ins ranging from €60 right up to €1,100, with the €550 NLH Main Event as centrepiece. The prizepool was guaranteed at €500,000 but in the end garnered significantly more after attracting 1,271 entries across five starting flights, with two re-entries permitted per flight and registration open right up until the first break on Day 2.
Day 2 proved a gruelling affair for the 16 survivors – following almost 14 hours of play, including nearly two excruciating hours of bubble, they called it a night with two tables remaining, Michel Molenaar in the lead. Over nine hours of play on the final day, Molenaar lost the lead several times – it was Iceland’s Leo Sigurdsson who held the lead when they reached the eight-handed official final table – but never lost his cool, eventually triumphing over his fellow countrywoman Gerianne Dijkstra in a short heads-up match. Dijkstra scored €77,450 and is now the highest-placing woman yet in a Main Event at The Festival.
We talked to Michel after the victory:
Besides poker, events were conducted in various casino game disciplines, including tournaments in roulette, blackjack and sports betting, as well as a pool tournament that was won by Finnish high stakes poker legend and Baileys enthusiast Ilari Sahamies. The Festival also loves poker in all its forms, with events in such non-traditional disciplines as Sviten Special and Open Face Chinese (the High Roller version of which was won by none other than Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk. Full results for all events may be found here. Away from the casino, an extensive hospitality package took in city tours, wine tasting, and various dinners and late-night parties for the benefit of players who weren’t still at the tables in the early hours.
Speaking of which, even as we shut down our laptops for the final time, a few side events are still ongoing – not least the staff event which is due to start any minute now. We’ll be back at The Festival in Nottingham next February, but until then – good night, and good luck! 🍻