Poker Night 1We can’t all be imbued with natural poker talent, although some will spend a lifetime saying that they are. But one thing every player can count on at the table is some degree of social interaction, often the very thing that attracts people to the game in the first place.

For generations poker has been a social game. A look through the profiles of the Nations Cup players reveals men and women who learned the game as children, taught by a parent or a grandparent. Or, the familiar route through someone’s home game before the leap to a card room or casino.

Take Barny Boatman of the UK team, who learned to play at home before teaching his younger brother Ross. Frenchman David Benyamine learned to play as a boy of 12. Andy Black was taught to play by his mother; the 14-year-old Mel Judah was taught by his father. Juan Manuel Pastor goes a generation further, taught to play by his grandfather.

Home games are the popular alternative to formal casinos poker, often involving odd variations of the game to keep things interesting. One particular game reached legendary status; that of IFP President Anthony Holden, as detailed in his cult book Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player. In it Holden wrote eloquently about the various characters who joined his weekly game, not least his brother in arms Al Alvarez, and how a weekly Tuesday night game quickly became the highlight of the week.

Then away from the kitchen table, there are the stories of poker games in unlikely circumstances, between say, political meetings or even international sporting contests.

Jim McManus, author and poker player, writes in Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker, how US Presidents have for many years used poker as a way to unwind. Former Tennis ace turned poker player Boris Becker even played poker during rain delays at Wimbledon.

But as times change and the internet takes over our lives, will the home game soon become a thing of the past? Gone will be the days of chipping in to buy beer and dip? No weekly highlight with friends to break the monotony of the working week?

Not if the players of Zynga Poker have anything to say about it, who, since their details were published on the IFP Facebook page, have been inundated with good luck messages, from players they’ve met on Zynga.

They may not be the most experienced team, but they are perhaps the most social. After all, Margaret Hailey of the Zynga team met her husband while playing poker. You can’t get more social than that.


So what is the Nations Cup? We’re glad you asked…

The first thing to know about the Nations Cup is that it is a team event, played by 12 teams, made up of International Federation of Poker member nations, with each Federation President tasked with recruiting a team of six (with one reserve) to travel to London later this month.

London Eye MedThe second thing to know about the Nations Cup is that it will be played in the capsules of the EDF Energy London Eye, on the banks of the River Thames, with a backdrop of iconic sights such as The Houses of Parliament and St Pauls Cathedral.

The Third, and most important thing to know about the Nations Cup, is that it is played using Duplicate Poker.

Anyone familiar with Duplicate Bridge will understand the concept of Duplicate Poker which involves each table of players receiving the same hand as that dealt at every other table.

Duplicate poker therefore pitches players against each opponent dealt identical cards in several games played simultaneously. Players score points based on how they exploit their hand to win (or limit losses), and are then compared to opponents being dealt the same cards at other tables. It’s a perfect way to remove the vagaries of luck and instead assess how skilful a player really is.

As Duplicate Poker ambassador, and author, Jim McManus puts it:

“By draining as much luck from the game as possible, Duplicate Poker comes close to guaranteeing that the best players will win in the short run as well as the long run.”

The Nations Cup should prove how accurate that really is.


Duplicate Blog2The 12 teams taking part in the first International Federation of Poker Nations Cup on the EDF Energy London Eye will be making poker history. But they’re not the first to try this intriguing form of the game. That was left to the attendees of three trial runs of duplicate poker pioneers who laid the groundwork for what’s planned to take place in London, in November.

Three special events were staged to iron out the duplicate creases with teams of players, made up of students, amateurs and professional players taking to the baize to play hundreds of hands, dealt identically on each table, testing not only the players but the game itself, fixing any teething problems that might be harder to solve while suspended hundreds of feet over the River Thames.

In the first trial, staged in the Victorian debating chamber of the Oxford Union, duplicate poker followed in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and even Kermit the Frog, to withstand the cross examination of the nation’s brightest students. The resulting win for Scotland made them the answer to what could become one of poker’s more unusual trivia questions.

Following Oxford there was London, where an extended competition seemed to bolster the argument that duplicate poker allows skilful players to succeed. Barny Boatman, John Duthie and Neil Channing were part of the UK Federation team which went on to finish second behind a team from Imperial College. But all three pros finished best.

Then a third trial, this past Friday, the last before the Nations Cup begins on 17 November. Changes included a switch from no-limit to pot-limit, after consultation with the likes of Boatman and Channing, which encouraged more post-flop play. British pros James Akenhead and Sam Trickett, members of the UK team, had their first attempt at mastering this purist form of the game.

The result? Another win for Imperial College – a duplicate win so to speak.


It’s with great pleasure that we introduce the new and official blog of the International Federation of Poker.
As is customary with this kind of thing, the IFP blog will be where you can find all sorts of information, news and even fun stuff about the IFP ahead of what promises to be an exciting few weeks, even if we do say so ourselves.

If you’ve already visited the website of the IFP (LINK) you’ll know the details of what that involves, with the Nations Cup (a Duplicate Poker team event) and The Table serving as a world premiere of sorts for what the IFP is all about; two new events which should turn heads around the poker world. Not a bad way to get things started. These form part of the latest stage of what has been a swift evolution for the IFP, formed in Lausanne, Switzerland, back in April 2009. Back then a core group of 12 member nations established poker’s first official governing body, electing Anthony Holden as IFP President, with the intention of securing Mind Sport status for poker. Now, just 18 months later, there are 36 member nations, including the United States, with more members on the way. And, in a world that often views poker in unfavourable terms, the status of poker as a skill game is much improved.

Those aren’t the only changes. The new IFP Facebook and Twitter pages are now up and running, a place to find videos, quizzes, polls and anything else we can think of. The IFP also has a new website, which will be changing here and there over the coming weeks to include articles, comment as well as details of the latest developments where the official governing body of poker is concerned.
Have a look now and you can be among the first to register your interest in all things IFP. We promise more big news announcements in the coming weeks, including how you could be playing at The Table in 2012.



The International Federation of Poker (IFP) has announced details of Duplicate Poker, the Mind Sport variation of the game.

Borrowing concepts from Duplicate Bridge, the poker equivalent creates the intriguing prospect of staging tournaments, played either by teams or individuals, in an environment free from the “luck of the draw” – the perfect way for poker players to highlight individual skill rather than good fortune.

Details of Duplicate Poker have now been made available, published in the IFP website Librarypage, detailing not only how the game is played, but also how the deck is prepared for each hand and how the unique structure has been devised. In addition, the strict security procedure is also examined in depth.

The creation of duplicate poker marks the next step forward in poker’s long journey towards recognition as a ‘skill game’ in the eyes of the world. It also highlights the continued work of the IFP, bringing further credibility to the game in a political climate which, in some countries, makes playing the game harder, and in some cases illegal.

While that battle rages, poker can, for the first time, be played in an environment free from the whims of luck, thwarting those who consider the game to be nothing more than gambling. No running good, no running bad; it’s now all about playing good or playing bad.