NATIONS BATTLE TO BECOME CHAMPION

For the past few weeks, soccer fans around Europe have been glued to their television sets, watching the fortunes of their side go up, down and sometimes up again in pursuit of one of the games’ most sought after trophies.

The 16 teams that started Euro 2012 earned their place in the championship after a two year qualifying period. This rigorous process ensures that the Championship, staged jointly in Poland and Ukraine, showcases the very best of European football talent in new state-of-the-art stadia.In this regard it has been a total success. The likes of Spain and Italy have at dazzled in their passage to the semi-finals, as have the dependable Germany and flair-filled Portugal. For the worldwide audience this has been soccer at its most compelling.National teams benefit from a natural fan base, uniting the hard core supporters with the occasional viewers who long gave up on understanding the offside rule. They replace passion with national pride and the spirit of competition, rejoicing when their nation does well, shrugging off any despondency when they fail.

IFP believes that poker could become a similar spectacle, drawing in support from pro poker players, amateurs and casual fans alike, even if they do not completely understand position or c-betting. All can be brought together by a shared appreciation for the talents of world class competitors.

The IFP Nations Cup strives to fill a gap in the poker world; a national team championship bringing together the best players from various qualifying countries to compete alongside each other.

Using an innovative format known as Match Poker (formerly Duplicate Poker), in which players at different tables are dealt identical hands in corresponding seats, the Nations Cup reduces the element of chance while increasing the demands on skill necessary to succeed. In Match Poker you must win and lose in the most profitable manner.

As the inaugural Nations Cup demonstrated in November, it makes for an absorbing and dynamic poker event, with the capacity to watch how several players play the same hand proving to be an educational tool without parallel.

This year IFP will be staging the second IFP Nations Cup, in London, made up of teams of players who have themselves survived an arduous qualification process. This event will once more demonstrate how the best players utilise talent and skill at the highest level to succeed and become Nations Cup champions.

Last year that was Team Germany, a team as gifted and organised as their counterparts on the football field. Will they be able to defend their title this November in London? Details of the line-up of this years’ event will be coming soon on the IFP website.

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE NATIONS CUP FINAL ROUND

The 2011 Duplicate Poker Nations Cup final took place on November 18, of the original 12 teams only 6 remained. Brazil, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and the world’s first digital nation Zynga battled it out to be crowned the most skillful nation.

Infographic Nations Cup 07122011 Facebook

PICKING THROUGH THE NATIONS CUP RESULTS

With the individual results from the Nations Cup now published on the IFP Blog, there’s been plenty of time to pore through the fine detail, inviting closer scrutiny of each team’s performance.

Duplicate poker offers a treasure trove of information for poker players, a breed already obsessed with detailed analysis of every possible hand played in every possible situation. It keeps the game strong and in a state of permanent evolution, and the duplicate form only adds to that, with further details of every hand played – every decision made – stored on computer for even deeper analysis.Konstantin BuecherlFor now the results show the dominance of the champions Team Germany. Of six preliminary tables and six during the final stages, Germany won five of them, scoring a maximum of six points per table. From that team Konstantin Buecherl (pictured in black) scored a perfect 12, winning both his heats to make him the highest scoring player in the Nations Cup.

Others scoring well included:

11 points: Leo Margets (Spain), Clement Thumy (France), Geoff Kinnune (Zynga), Raul Paez (Spain).

10 points: Rolf Slotboom (Netherlands), John Paul Pasqualini (France), Moritz Kranich (Germany), Roger Ellis (Zynga).

The effect of Team Zynga wasn’t underestimated, with several professional players suggesting that it affected the way they played. Did that make it easier for the amateurs of Zynga? Geoff Kinnune and Roger Ellis would disagree, both of whom won at least one contest.

Liv BoereeIf you were on one of the teams eliminated in the first stages there was some consolation in at least earning maximum points. Of the six teams that didn’t progress from the first stage three players won their seat to claim some pride: Liv Boeree (UK) (pictured, right), Vanessa Selbst (USA) and Jackie Glazier (Australia).

One last word on hypothetical performances combined from the first and final stages. Had that been the case France would be the Nations Cup champions with 52 points, one more than Germany on 51.

Just for fun.

ALL THE SCORES FROM THE NATIONS CUP

A week ago players from 12 National Teams were preparing to face each other in a unique event in London’s County Hall.

As outside tourists wandered along the banks of the River Thames inside some of the world’s best poker players engaged in duplicate poker, competing not against the players at their table, but the players at other team in the same seat.Now the official results have now been confirmed, showing who won seat-by-seat. Remember the results below are not divided by table, but by seat, with the players each receiving the same hand.

Let the discussion begin…

GROUP A

(Germany 27 points, Team Zynga 25, Spain 24, Denmark 17, Ireland 17, United States 16)

Seat 1
1st – Moritz Kranich (6 points)
2nd – Gus Hansen (5)
3rd – Donnacha O’Dea (4)
4th – Juan Maceiras (3)
5th – Ricky Greer (2)
6th – Isaac Haxton (1)

Seat 2
1st – Roger Ellis (6 points)
2nd – Tomeu Gomila (5)
3rd – Marty Smith (4)
4th – Tobias Reinkemeier (3)
5th – Simon Ravnsbaek (2)
6th – Jennifer Leigh (1)

Seat 3
1st – Vanessa Selbst (6 points)
2nd – Leo Margets (5)
3rd – Hans Martin Vogl (4)
4th – Eoghan O’Dea (3)
5th – Margaret Hailey (2)
6th – Mads Wissing (1)

Seat 4
1st – Konstantin Buecherl (6 points)
2nd – Brian Turnbull (5)
3rd – Lars Bonding (4)
4th – Raul Mestre (3)
5th – Cat O’Neill (2)
6th – Antonio Esfandiari (1)

Seat 5
1st – Raul Paez (6 points)
2nd – Geoffrey Kinnune (5)
3rd – Pernille Ravn (4)
4th – Matt Matross (3)
5th – Sebastian Ruthenberg (2)
6th – Andy Black (1)

Seat 6
1st – Sandra Naujoks (6 points)
2nd – Roei Shalev (5)
3rd – Barry Greenstein (4)
4th – Padraig Parkinson (3)
5th – Oscar Blanco (2)
6th – Mads Andersen (1)

GROUP B

(France 30 points, Netherlands 23, Brazil 22, Australia 21, United Kingdom 17, Japan 13)

Seat 1
1st – Rolf Slotboom (6 points)
2nd – Nicolas Levi (5)
3rd – Daniela Zapiello (4)
4th – Kiyomi Tagawa (3)
5th – Mike Guttmann (2)
6th – Jake Cody (1)

Seat 2
1st – Caio Pimenta (6 points)
2nd – Fabrice Soulier (5)
3rd – Marsha Waggoner (4)
4th – Takuo Serita (3)
5th – Fatima Moreira de Melo (2)
6th – JP Kelly (1)

Seat 3
1st – Jackie Glazier (6 points)
2nd – Jean Paul Pasqualini (5)
3rd – Alex Gomes (4)
4th – Rob Hollink (3)
5th – James Akenhead (2)
6th – Tsuneaki Takeda (1)

Seat 4
1st – Hugo Lemaire (6 points)
2nd – Mel Judah (5)
3rd – Sam Holden (4)
4th – Felipe Ramos (3)
5th – Noah Boeken (2)
6th – Gen Watanabe (1)

Seat 5
1st – Liv Boeree (6 points)
2nd – Marcel Luske (5)
3rd – Takuya Suzuki (4)
4th – Lucille Cailly (3)
5th – Tony G (2)
6th – Christian Kruel (1)

Seat 6
1st – Clement Thumy (6 points)
2nd – Jorryt van Hoof (5)
3rd – Andre Akkari (4)
4th – Sam Trickett (3)
5th – Leo Boxell (2)
6th – Kinichi Nakata (1)

FINAL STAGES

Seat 1
1st – Lucille Cailly (6 points)
2nd – Oscar Blanco (5)
3rd – Margaret Hailey (4)
4th – Noah Boeken (3)
5th – Andre Akkari (2)
6th – Hans Martin Vogl (1)

Seat 2
1st – Konstantin Buecherl (6 points)
2nd – Clement Thumy (5)
3rd – Daniela Zapiello (4)
4th – Brian Turnbull (3)
5th – Marcel Luske (2)
6th – Juan Maceiras (1)

Seat 3
1st – Geoff Kinnune (6 points)
2nd – Sebastian Ruthenberg (5)
3rd – Jorryt van Hoof (4)
4th – Caio Pimenta (3)
5th – Nicolas Levi (2)
6th – Tomeu Gomila (1)

Seat 4
1st – Leo Margets (6 points)
2nd – Alex Gomes (5)
3rd – Rolf Slotboom (4)
4th – Fabrice Soulier (3)
5th – Sandra Naujoks (2)
6th – Roei Shalev (1)

Seat 5
1st – Thiago Nashijima (6 points)
2nd – Jean Paul Pasqualini (5)
3rd – Moritz Kranich (4)
4th – Fatima Moreira de Melo (3)
5th – Ricky Greer (2)
6th – Raul Mestre (1)

Seat 6
1st – Tobias Reinkemeier (6 points)
2nd – Raul Paez (5)
3rd – Roger Ellis (4)
4th – Rob Hollink (3)
5th – Felipe Ramos (2)
6th – Hugo Lemaire (1)

FINAL RESULT

1st – Germany (24 points)
2nd – Brazil (22 points, 6,350 chips)
3rd – France (22 points, 4,620 chips)
4th – Zynga (20 points)
5th – Netherlands (19 points)
6th – Spain (19 points)

TEAM ZYNGA LEAVE THEIR MARK ON IFP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

For many people the most incredible story to emerge from the IFP World Championships was not the performance of Nations Cup winners Germany, or that of Raul Mestre, who would win The Table to become the first official world poker champion. It was instead the story of Team Zynga, seven amateur players thrown into the deep end of international tournament poker and against some of the best players in the world.

Joe Barnard of the UK Poker Federation was with them throughout their incredible London adventure and chronicles their experiences here…

DAY FIVE – THE POKER GODS SHINING DOWN ON TEAM ZYNGA

All practice and warm-ups now complete, the team soaked up the atmosphere as top professional players from around the world began arriving at the Park Plaza hotel in central London for the first day of the IFP Nations’ Cup.

As a pre-event surprise for the team we laid on a traditional English afternoon tea in St. James Park, before the teams were then suited up in Team Zynga polo shirts and jackets, ready for action. Then it was over to County Hall.

Along with the 11 other sides, Team Zynga were invited in to the debating chamber to hear tournament director Thomas Kremser run through the event’s procedures, before the time to play finally arrived.

Each player was then escorted to their table in the correct capsule of the EDF Energy London Eye. This is what the trip was all about for Team Zynga – the opportunity to be a part of history.

Zynga are the first “digital nation” to be represented in an international sporting event, and team members Roger Ellis, Maggie Hailey, Brian Turnbull, Geoff Kinnune, Roei Shalev, Ricky Greer plus captain Jennefer Gallenberger, were willing pioneers of this innovative step by the IFP.

Enjoying the views across London, and the formidable opposition at the tables, Team Zynga can be proud of what they have achieved this week. After initially thinking that they had not done enough to progress into the second day of the event, a late announcement came through that in fact, all teams would be returning for Day Two and the conclusion of the Nations’ Cup in County Hall.

The poker gods continue to shine down on Team Zynga!

DAY SIX – TEAM ZYNGA HAVE THEIR EYES ON THE PRIZE

In the morning the 12 teams were back in action, split into two 36-hand heats. Zynga entered the first heat and, in the words of one onlooker, “totally smashed it!” With the results in Team Zynga had defied the odds, finishing second to send the all-stars of the United States, Ireland and Demark home early.

It was all down to some fantastic individual results: Zynga won the seat two contest and came second in seats four, five and six. Against professional players playing exactly the same cards… it was a truly remarkable achievement.

To add to the pressure, the six-team final was now contested over 72 hands and was streamed live around the world, allowing the now global fan base to follow the action from the virtual rail.

In a fiercely competitive final it was Team Germany who emerged victorious, ahead of Brazil in second place and France in third. In fourth place, ahead of Holland and Spain, was Team Zynga.

What Team Zynga had achieved was incredible. They’ve gone 15 rounds with the heavyweights and could hold their heads high when taking their seats at “The Table” the following day. The world’s first digital nation was a force to be reckoned with!

DAY SEVEN – THE LEGEND OF RICKY GREER

Seven players with just a smattering of live poker experience between them faced 128 poker professionals in the first ever IFP World Championship of Poker – “The Table”.

Deep end this may have been but a team strategy meeting was arranged, with professional players Gus Hansen (pictured), Mel Judah and Barny Boatman there to offer advice and encouragement. Then it was down to business.

In the beautiful setting of County Hall’s Rotunda, the IFP “The Table” anthem played out and President Anthony Holden proudly asked the dealers to shuffle-up and deal.

With a fast structure in place the field was reduced at a quick pace and Team Zynga lost its first two members (Brian Turnbull and Roger Ellis) within the first few levels. Zynga though were far from done.

In the middle stages Roei Shalev (right) was playing like a hero, making an agonising but correct read with pocket jacks. Roei also made a great laydown with ace-king.

Across the room, Geoff Kinnune and Ricky Greer were drawn in seats next to each other and were keeping afloat against the likes of Mike Sexton and Jennifer Leigh.

Maggie Hailey was sparring with Victoria Coren and took down a nice pot against her when she made a Broadway straight. Jennefer Gallenberger was in good company too – gaining the respect of her table which included recent World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up Martin Staszko.

Soon though the volatile structure – in place to reduce 135 to a final nine in just a day – began to take its toll. Roei and Maggie were the next to fall, and Jennefer joined them just a few hands short of the dinner break. But with 50 players remaining Geoff and Ricky were still in the mix and standing tall.

Television crews and international media were flooding the stage and Team Zynga had their fair share of TV spots, proving to be one of the stories of the week. Could it really be possible that one of its members could make The Table?

Sadly, no.

Geoff was eliminated with about 40 players left and all but Ricky (left), an amateur player from Longview, Texas, were now railing the conclusion of day one. Ricky was refusing to budge, keeping his chances alive with a double-up against countryman Ali Eslami.

By now, with two tables remaining, players were beginning to see themselves reaching The Table. But for Greer it would not be a fairy take ending.
Greer watched as the bulk of his chips went to Igor Trafane, who out-kicked him. Reduced to a handful of chips Greer was able to shove with pocket queens only for his opponent’s nines to make a set. Recording a truly amazing result, Greer was out.

DAY EIGHT – TEAM ZYNGA LEAVE WITH THEIR HEADS HELD HIGH

Team Zynga took their seats in the spectator area of County Hall’s rotunda for the epic conclusion to a truly spectacular tournament.

The Table, dominating the room and rigged with cameras, took centre stage before the nine remaining players took their seats to applause, as Thomas Kremser introduced them. The atmosphere was incredible, and Team Zynga simply appreciated being a part of this historic occasion.

The chips were flying and players fell, with great play, bad beats and everything you could hope for in a final table.

Raul Mestre had dominated the table and sat with a huge chip lead. But when Trafane and Victoria Coren got it all-in with each other there was always a chance one of them might be able to tip the tables. But both players showed Ace-Queen, Coren’s in spades.

No one expected what happened next, three spades on the flop leaving Trafane as good as out of the competition.

Using this as a springboard, Coren’s fearless and uber-aggressive heads-up play helped her take a narrow lead. But losing a race with Ace-Jack against Mestre’s pocket-fives left her crippled, and a few hands later Raul’s Ace-Five caught a five on the board, enough to take the title of first official world champion of poker.

Time for one last Team Zynga farewell dinner to sign off an incredible week. Not only had the team achieved the unexpected in poker terms, the players had also become great friends, with plans already in place for a reunion next year.

It’s over and out for now, but you haven’t heard the last of Team Zynga who leave London with their heads held high…