GERMANY CROWNED FIRST NATIONS CUP CHAMPIONS

Duplicate poker is intended to reduce random chance allow skill to flourish. The result tonight that crowned the first Nations Cup champions, proved just that when Team Germany, skippered by Stephan Kalhammer, were presented the Nations Cup and penned their names into poker’s history books in London tonight.

Blessed with a pool of player from which to choose, which boasted combined earnings in excess of $11 million, Kalhammer chose players who don’t count their winnings but weigh them, throwing in WSOP bracelets, EPT and WPT trophies to boot.Germany was carried to their win by the likes of Sebastian Ruthenberg, Moritz Kranich and Tobias Reinkemeier, ably supported by team mates Sandra Naujoks, Konstantin Buecherl, Hans Martin Vogl and Tim Reese. It proved a potent combination, a recipe for success that should keep the Friday night bars of London busy, at least till chucking out time.Like an election night, with eager candidates waiting for the polls to close, the anticipation of results increased the tension in the player lounge overlooking the Thames, where players had gathered.

Some, like Team Spain, formed a huddle, bottling team spirit in empty beer bottles. Elsewhere post-mortems were already under way.

HoldenIFP President Anthony Holden then took to the stage, tapped the microphone and prepared announce the news everyone had been waiting for. The results were in and it was extremely close. France and Brazil were tied on 22 points, Brazil taking second by virtue of a higher chip count (6,350 to France’s 4,620). But Germany’s 24 points bettered them both.

Kalhammer accepted the trophy on behalf of his team, hoisting it above his head and sending people on the front row scurrying for cover. There was no need. At least a dozen German hands reached up to hold it aloft, not one prepared to let go.

The Nations Cup had been played in the finest of spirits, exhibiting the best elements of the Mind Sport that each player had come to London to celebrate.

There was still time for one twist.

As the remaining places were announced it quickly became clear that Zynga had exceeded all expectations, finishing in fourth place. When the time comes for the Zynga players to end their London adventure and fly back home to real life, they’ll at least do so with a smile on their face and one hell of a story to tell.

It’s that image that brings to a close the first half of the IFP World Championships.

Duplicate poker, with all its administration and arithmetic, now makes way for a new event starting tomorrow. The Table.

The Table is an invitation-only freeroll with $500,000 up for grabs to the 130 top professionals and celebrities invited to play, which on Sunday will crown the first official world champion of poker.

It looks and feels like a regular no-limit Texas hold’em contest and yet this should prove a little different.

Coverage of The Table starts tomorrow at 1pm.