WELCOME TO THE IFP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Events NationscupAfter months of planning, logistics, and interest from around the world the waiting is finally over. For the next four days two unique events will be the focus of the poker world. It starts today with the inaugural running of the Nations Cup, and finishes on Sunday at The Table, where a first official IFP world champion of poker will be crowned.

Today, it’s all about the EDF Energy London Eye where in a few hours’ time 12 teams, made up of member federations, (actual and digital) take to the skies in the Eye’s capsules to play duplicate poker while steadily circling, with the stunning backdrop of London by night to distract them.Already the players are milling around the South Bank in London, opposite the House of Parliament, and a few feet away from County Hall, the former home to the Greater London Council and now the perfect venue for an event of equal stature. Or something like that.That all starts tonight, with lift-off scheduled for 8pm. That’s when the first of the 12 tables will be filled for a night of duplicate poker, perhaps the most unique variation of the Mind Sport. What’s duplicate poker you ask? Watch the video introduction to get up to speed.

Right now though the IFP Congress is taking place in the former Debating Chamber of the GLC (details to follow later today), before a reception begins for players, dignitaries and celebrities, here to witness what will be an historic day.

When play finally starts you’ll find live coverage of the event right here on the IFP Blog, along with pictures, videos and everything else you might think of. You can also follow us on Twitter and on Facebook, where you can also send us your comments.

NESSON PREDICTS BRIGHT FUTURE FOR POKER

And with the bringing down of the gavel, IFP President Anthony Holden (now re-elected for a second term of five years no less) brought the keynote speaker to the microphone – Charlie Nesson.

Nesson is to various people various things. To students of Harvard Law he is their professor; to students in the 1970s he’s the man who successfully defended Daniel Ellsberg (Google “Pentagon Papers”); while to poker players he is the man on a mission to elevate poker to the status of a Mind Sport, and as such he fits in brilliantly with the IFP.As an amateur poker player, Nesson was used to playing poker in bed, while his wife did the crossword. But, as he put it: “Black Friday got me out of bed”, energising Nesson who saw the events of this year as an assault on his liberty to use the internet.Nesson then decided to use the internet to his advantage, and as part of the Mind Sports Research Network, he now aims to create a worldwide research project to pinpoint the very nature of skill in poker, with the help of players, universities and organisations like the IFP. The results, when they are one day reach, should be worth waiting for.

Following Nesson, members of the media were presented with the key figures involved in tonight’s proceedings, including two team captains, Rolf Slotboom (Holland) and Barny Boatman (United Kingdom).

For players of their calibre, the Nations Cup stands as a new challenge, a new title to pursue and a new trophy for the mantel piece. There was no doubting the levels of national pride involved too, with Boatman and Slotboom each eyeing the Nations Cup trophy, in all its golden glory, perched on the table next to them. One things for sure, whoever wins will need a big mantel piece.

With play due to begin at 8pm we’re now a little more than an hour away from the start of the first ever Nations Cup. Players are currently being briefed on what to expect when they enter the pods, as well as the format of duplicate poker. Then it will be a short walk outside where the London Eye waits idle, one big wheel of fortune ready for the players to give it a spin.

LIVE COVERAGE OF THE IFP NATIONS CUP

Events Nationscup7PM: POKER HISTORY SET TO BEGIN

Welcome to live coverage of the IFP Nations Cup, a unique duplicate poker tournament taking place in 12 capsules (not “pods”) of the EDF Energy London Eye on the banks of the river Thames.What we have ahead of us is as many rotations (“orbits?” “revolutions?” “circuits”?) as it takes to play 72 hands, dealt identically in each capsule, where 12 teams are divided.

Who are those teams? Here’s how they’ll line up:

Team UK
Barny Boatman, Liv Boeree, Jake Cody, Sam Trickett, JP Kelly, James Akenhead and Sam Holden.

Team USA
Barry Greenstein, Antonio Esfandiari, Isaac Haxton, Ali Eslami, Jennifer Leigh, Vanessa Selbst and Matt Matros (reserve).

Team Ireland
Padraig Parkinson, Marty Smith, Andy Black, Donnacha O’Dea, Eoghan O’Dea, Cat O’Neill and Dermot Blain.

Team Denmark
Gus Hansen, Lars Bonding, Theo Jorgensen, Mads Wissing, Mads Andersen, Simon Ravnsbaek and Pernille Ravn.

Team France
Fabrice Soulier, Nicolas Levi, Jean-Paul Pasqualini, Hugo Lemaire, Lucille Cailly and Clement Thumy.

Team Germany
Hans Vogl, Konstantin Buecherl, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Moritz Kranich, Time Reese, Tobias Reinkemeier and Sandra Naujoks.

Team Brazil
Andre Akkari, Alex Gomes, Felipe Ramis, Christian Kruel, Thiago Nishijima, Caio Pimenta and Daniela Zapiello.

Team Holland
Rolf Slotboom, Marcel Luske, Noah Boeken, Rob Hollink, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Jorryt van Hoof and Koen de Bakker.

Team Spain
Jose Obadia, Raul Paez, Juan Maceiras, Raul Mestre, Leo Margets, Oscar Blanco and Tomeu Gomila.

Team Australia
Mel Judah, Tony G, Gary Benson, Vesko Zmukic, Mike Guttmann, Marsha Waggoner and Jackie Glazier.

Team Japan
Takuo Serita, Mari Fukunaga, Gen Watanabe, Takuyu Suzuki, Kinichi Nakata, Tsuneaki Tafeda and Kiyomi Tagawa.

Team Zynga
Jennefer Gallenberger, Brian Turnbull, Margaret Hailey, Roei Shalev, Roger Ellis, Geoff Kinnune and Ricky Greer.

Pick your favourite, and if your nation isn’t represented, and if you use the internet now and again, Team Zynga, the first Digital Federation in the world, will happily take your allegiance.

With an hour to go the teams have been photographed, filmed and the national pride oozes down the corridors of County Hall, where teams are being briefed on the events of tonight. To paraphrase Spanish Federation President Juan Manuel Pastor; “you can smell it on the streets”.

With entry into one of the capsules denied we’ll be following the action from ground level as these poker pioneers take to the skies. We’ll have regular updates from inside and outside County Hall, as well as the scores as we get them. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

TEAM ZYNGA TOUCH DOWN IN LONDON

London Eye MedAmong a cast of poker’s most notable champions, bracelet winners and personalities are a team jumping into the deep end of tournament poker. But having travelled half way across the world, what they lack in experience Team Zynga make up for in enthusiasm, and the all-round sense that at the very least it’s a trip worth savoring.

Volunteering to be the team’s unofficial guide for their stay in London, Joe Bernard of the UK Poker Federation reports on the team’s arrival (which very nearly didn’t happen), their first taste of live poker and the final preparations, albeit at the England v Sweden match at Wembley, ahead of their Nations Cup debut on Thursday…Day One – Team Zynga has landed

“The team has travelled a combined distance of over 29,000 miles (47,000 km) to be here in London this week, and their journeys were not without their fair share of incidents.

Poor Roger was on the phone with us at 2am (his time) double-checking and triple-checking exactly which flight he was on out of Whitehorse, southern Yukon (Canada). Roei flew in early to avoid national strikes in Israel, and more than one member of the team admitted to running to their flight connections.

LondonThe most heart-breaking story is surely Ricky’s from Longview, Texas. Missing his flight by a matter of minutes, he then drove four hours to Houston to make his connection. Despite just getting to the gate in time they would not let him board (since he hadn’t been at the airport for over an hour). Still, by 10am Sunday morning, all seven members of the team had safely arrived at London Heathrow Airport and were ready to begin the poker adventure of a lifetime.

The team united for the first time over a welcome lunch at Locale (an Italian near the Park Plaza Hotel), where Roei very kindly gave everybody an Israeli luck charm. Derren Brown’s line of reasoning (from his recent experiment) is that it is how you capitalize on opportunities that make your own luck. This seems somewhat justified in Team Zynga’s case at least…

We heard from Jennefer that quite a number of people were informed that they had won this trip to London (ahead of our current team of seven) and simply didn’t believe it to be true!

On Sunday evening the team got to meet Anthony Holden, Don Morris and Patrick Nally for drinks as well as a number of the Brazilian delegation in town for the Mind Sports Festival this week.

The team spirit is certainly there and so far Team Zynga are having a ball!”

Day Two – Team Zynga Playing It Cool

Canon“Day two started with a group outing to the Tower of London. Armed with their new Oyster cards and bags of enthusiasm, the team enjoyed their first London Underground ride (carefully timed to miss rush hour), although most admitted to being a little bamboozled by London’s famous tube map.

BeefeaterA guided tour around London’s historic fortress was preceded by ceremonious cannon firing on the bank of the Thames. Then it was down to business – the team’s first warm-up session at the Loose Cannon club on Allhallow’s Lane.

By this stage everybody was dying to play some poker, and boy, did they battle it out. Some four hours and “fish and fries” later, Geoff and Brian seemed to have amassed the lion’s share of all the chips.

Roei’s lucky charms were being sported en-mass, and you may well see these later in the week as the team’s card protectors, although as short-stacked Maggie pointed out, they weren’t working for everybody. But in general the team loved the table banter (“you don’t get sarcasm over the computer”).

Cool Hand Luke 2After work, Team Zynga continued the poker theme with a trip to the Aldwych Theatre to see Mark Warren as “Cool Hand Luke”. A great adaptation and even die-hard fans of the original movie with Paul Newman will not be disappointed.

‘Wherever you go and whatever you do, always play a real cool hand’.

So far so good for Team Zynga in that regard.”

Day Three – Time to get in the zone…

Fox Poker Club Chip“Team Zynga’s poker warm-up continued at The Fox poker club on Shaftsbury Avenue, in the heart of London’s West End. Our dealer, Daniel, kindly dealt numerous sit n’ gos, where the team focused on protecting their stacks, and adjusting their bet sizes and aggression with the increasing blinds. All the while Daniel threw in a few jokes, some advice and lessons in the all-important art of riffling chips.

The shoot-out that counted may not have been for $500,000 chips (as on Zynga) but was still fiercely contested. The winner received a bottle of wine and the runner-up a miniature London bus. Now if that doesn’t get you playing your ‘A Game’ I don’t know what will.

RiffleAfter a big three-way all-in that ended in a split pot, the feeling shared by the team was that “the poker gods clearly want us to keep playing”.
Heads-up only Geoff and Suzanne remained. After Daniel pointed out that the toy bus had moving wheels it was almost a race for the runner-up spot, but it was Geoff who took it down.

Goal 1After dinner the team headed to Wembley Stadium for the England v Sweden game and hooked up with the Brazilian delegation. Luck was on our side once again, with the team witnessing England’s 2,000th goal after 23 minutes (later declared an own goal – Ed).

Zynga In The ZoneAfter a final debrief back at the hotel, Jennefer handed out Zynga shirts ahead of Thursday’s date with destiny. Come the start of the Nations Cup the team will certainly look the part.”

The Nations Cup begins on Thursday with day one taking place in 12 capsules of the EDF Energy London Eye. Live coverage of the event, as well as that of The Table starting on Saturday, will be found on the IFP Blog. Check back on Thursday for more details.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS

Events NationscupThe IFP Nations Cup is now just days away making it high time we started looking through the teams to ask ourselves we think is going to win.

While you can answer for yourself on the IFP Facebook page today, we’ve decided to start by making it a matter of money. Just which team has earned the most collectively, ahead of their date with duplicate poker history.It’s hardly a great surprise to find that the Americans have won the most. Team USA has won a staggering $22,270,120, with $7.5 million of that earned by team captain Barry Greenstein (who has even given away a large chunk of it to children’s charities). Antonio Esfandiari’s $4.5 million isn’t bad; neither is Vanessa Selbst’s $4.4 million. With that kind of firepower don’t be too surprised to see Team USA triumphant on Friday night.Behind the red, white and blue it’s another team of red, white and blue. The home nation Team UK are second in winnings, with $17,514,378 in the books and Sam Trickett their highest earner with more than $5 million in tournament earnings. Denmark is not far behind with $16,335,969, more than half of that courtesy of Gus Hansen.

Following them are France ($15,115,300), Ireland (13,828,859, Germany (11,174,664), Australia ($10,643,731), Holland (9,598,002), Brazil ($6,087,477), Spain ($5,183,061) and then Japan ($178,468). Find details of all of their players on the IFP Facebook page.
But is money the best indicator? And what about the twelfth Nations Cup team?

Well, that would be Team Zynga.

As the first Digital Federation, Team Zynga have the least in terms of live tournaments winnings, with their amateur line-up yet to score big wins on the world poker arena. But while that may not make them one of the favourites, they have between them some $62,837,742 in Zynga poker chips.

It’s also worth remembering that the students of Imperial College won two of the three duplicate poker trials, beating various professional players in the process.

Only a fool would write off Team Zynga, and what they lack in loot they make up for in team spirit, if the comment function of Facebook is anything to go by.

We’ll find out soon enough when the Nations Cup begins on Thursday.