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.


Mestre Winner WebThe people of Spain went to the polls today to elect a new Prime Minister. While the people put their cross against a name, several hundred miles away one of their countrymen was perusing an altogether different title, one that no election can bestow, the title of official IFP world poker champion.

Tonight that title belongs to Spaniard Raul Mestre (right), a talented professional who despite playing with a permanent expression of exasperation, like he’s holding his breath, is perhaps his country’s sharpest poker mind. Tonight he’s $250,000 richer and the holder of poker’s newest title.English03His heads-up opponent Victoria Coren (left), had a right to argue she had been unlucky not to have gone one step further. But grace and good humour had become the hallmark of this final, certainly on the part of Coren, (as anyone who saw the presentation of medals could testify), who saluted the victor in the same way as the crowd that had watched every minute.It brings to an end a superlative four days of the IFP World Championships. It started with the Nations Cup, a unique duplicate poker contest won by a gifted German team, and it ended tonight with a first champion and a mood of anticipation as we look towards The Table in 2012.Before that the details of the day will grace the history books they have now been written into.EnvironmentIt started in dramatic fashion. Kinichi Nakata, from Japan, departing in ninth place minutes into the day. That was ahead of Tim Reese, one of two members of Team Germany, who went in eighth. Nakata’s countryman Takuo Serita followed in seventh place.

Sandra Naujoks had played flawlessly up to this point, and when she got her chips in with pocket kings against Mestre’s eight-nine, it looked like the double-up she seemed entitled to would arm her well for a run on the title.

Spanish04But Mestre found that crucial drop of luck at the perfect time, flopping an eight and rivering another. Naujoks, who managed a smile, was suddenly out.

The main benefactor? That would be Marsha Waggoner.

Waggoner, one of the grand dames of poker, had nursed her short stack for most of the afternoon, hand rearing it to health with a double up before it began again to fade. Naujoks’s shock departure moved her up a place, into fifth, capping a commendable performance.

When Slavko Tomic departed in fourth (another player cursed by a short stack), it left arguably the three best players of the day – Coren, Mestre and Igor Trafane.

BrazilianTrafane (right), who serves as President of the Confederação Brasileira de Texas Hold’em, impressed yesterday and did the same today. Were it not for two big hands we might now be writing about the world title heading to Brazil.

In the first, Mestre was rivered by Mestre. The second, some time later, was even crueller. Coren moved in with ace-queen and Trafane called with ace-queen. But crucially Coren’s cards were both spades. She wished for a chop, but got the exact opposite; the flop bringing three spades to devastate her as much as Trafane.

The pair embraced, it being unclear who was comforting who, Trafane left with no more than a couple of blinds. Within a hand he was gone in third place.

Final Table Heads Up WebThe heads-up contest is best summed up by the comments in our previous post.

Coren and Mestre had tangled brilliantly at the start of the day (the bluff, re-bluff, re-re-bluff is worth a read) and now again at the end. Back then Coren had been in charge and it seemed she’d got the upper hand at the end also, taking the lead and looking to seal it when she called Mestre’s shove with fives with her own ace-jack.

Mestre & Coren Compare Medles WebIt was to be Coren’s high point; the race won by Mestre and a short while later, when Mestre’s ace-five dominated Coren’s ace-three, it was all over.

Raul Mestre, a deserving world poker champion and first winner of The Table.


Welcome back to County Hall for the IFP World Championship where today the Nations Cup gives way to The Table, which tomorrow will crown a first official world champion.

After the intricacies of the Nations Cup yesterday and all that duplicate poker involves, The Table takes on a more familiar look, a no-limit Texas hold’em tournament played as a regular knock out tournament, with the final nine players returning tomorrow.

Right now 135 players are making their way to County Hall for a reception before taking their seat in the Rotunda. What they’ll find when they get there is one of the most spectacular settings for a poker tournament anywhere.

While the EDF Energy London Eye provided for breath taking scenery, the setting for The Table is more akin to a subterranean refuge for poker players who found this place not with a map or compass, but a sixth sense that told them they were required here. The rest were invited in the traditional way and are sipping champagne in the player reception.

At stake this weekend is a share of a $500,000 prize pool. The competition will be tough, the action fast and fairly strenuous with a structure designed to leave only a handful of these, the best players in the world, still playing at the end.

Play is due to start at 1pm. Live coverage throughout the day can be found on the IFP Blog.


County HallThe International Federation of Poker has announced that no teams will be cut after Day One of its inaugural Nations Cup of Duplicate Poker, being played in London.

All 12 teams which played in yesterday’s first round will take part in a re-formatted second day.The decision was taken to ensure the fairness of the competition after technical issues gave rise to uncertainty over scoring during yesterday’s first stage in which games were played in capsules on the EDF Energy London Eye.IFP President Anthony Holden said: “Our sole concern is to ensure fairness for all of the players and because of that this was not a difficult decision.

“Yesterday’s play clearly demonstrated the tremendous appetite players have for team duplicate poker and the chance to represent their countries.

“We go into Day 2 with a lot of great poker to be played and the prospect of a thrilling finale this evening.

The revised schedule is:

  • 12. Noon Group A: ( six teams) Play 36 hands
  • 13.30: Group B – 36 hands
  • 15.00 – Announcement of results
  • 16.00 – Six qualified finalists play 72 hands
  • 19.00 ( Approx) Announcement of winner and Torphy presentation.


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.