BlackboardAnyone in the UK starting last weekend with a copy of The Times might have had their attention drawn to the front page headline regarding the suggestion that British school children should be taught about gambling.

The article detailed a suggestion supported by the British Labour Party that children as young as 12 should be taught how to gamble. The report was put together by GamCare, a UK based organisation that runs a gambling helpline, with the intention of promoting responsible gaming.

But the report, which suggested children analyse horse racing form as well as the odds for sporting contests, neglected to highlight poker.
Surely a mind port such as poker should top the list as an excellent way to teach people of all age groups and nationalities, from children to senior citizens, analytical skills, as well as favourable odds, as a letter to The Times on Monday by the IFP President Anthony Holden pointed out…


Sir, As President of the International Federation of Poker (IFP), I was surprised and dismayed to find no mention of poker in your front-page lead (“Lessons in gambling urged for all children”, Dec 3).

As is evidenced by IFP’s provisional membership of the International Mind Sports Association, alongside chess, bridge and other such cerebral pursuits, our mission is to promote poker as a mind sport of strategic skill, with huge educational potential.

While IFP does not regard poker as gambling — unlike craps, slots and the other games you mention, players are wagering favourable odds — we are already embarked on an international initiative to use poker as an educational tool.

At our annual congress last month, the keynote speaker was Harvard’s senior law professor Charles Nesson, who uses poker to teach his law students courtroom techniques, and is developing a worldwide, university-based mind sports research network in collaboration with IFP.

The Labour Party and other supporters of the scheme would do better to promote the teaching of mathematics, statistics, probability and other such valuable skills via poker rather than the mindless games of chance your report mentions.

Anthony Holden


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


The result was a remarkable win for Raul Mestre, with a backdrop perfect for the crowing of a first world champion. But the story of The Table did not begin when players took their seat last month; it began with the creation of the actual table itself.

It was quite something to design and put together, something else entirely to deliver it and install it, as the images below testify…


For poker players it’s all about the money. Sure, some prestige is fine now and then, but the bottom line is the bottom line. You can’t spend a nice looking resume. Or at least that’s the impression many people have, that of cut throat individuals with only one thing on their mind.

English03But at least one player had someone else on their mind.Victoria Coren (right), a columnist and TV presenter as well as a poker player, finished runner-up to Raul Mestre at The Table last month, a feat worth $100,000. Now you can make that $90,000, with the rest going to Age UK, a British charity which aims to improve the living standards and protect the rights for older people.Philanthropy among poker players is not that unusual. Barry Greenstein, who captained the United States Team during the IFP Nations Cup, famously used to give his tournament winnings away to children’s charities, and many players, including Jennefer Gallenberger of Team Zynga, pledge 1 per cent of poker winnings to charity.Before taking her seat Coren had tweeted that her column in that Sunday’s edition of Observer was “in love with old folk”, before pledging ten per cent of any winnings to Age UK.

Shortly after her success at County Hall she tweeted:

“The 10% went to Age UK this morning, £6,360 with love, on behalf of all us poker players who have no idea what our own future will be.”

Well said.


World Mind Games Logo 300x226Mind Sports enthusiasts have been tuning in to follow all the action from Beijing, China this week, where the first SportAccord World Mind Games are now underway in the Chinese capital, featuring Bridge, Go, Draughts, Chess and Xiangqi.

It’s the type of environment in which poker players would thrive – intense competition in Mind Sports that appeal to a devoted following, travelling from all corners of the world to compete against the very best.So far the competition has been fierce with the Netherlands and the United States took top honours in the most recent events, winning the Bridge Teams Series.

The Netherlands won the men’s category with a 178-76 IMP victory over USA in Monday’s final. USA took the silver medals while Norway, which defeated China by 129-100 in the third place play-off, took the bronze.

In the women’s event the United States topped the qualifying stage and won the final 166-77 against Great Britain, who settled for silver. The home nation China took the bronze by defeating France by 91-67 in the third place play-off match.

Away from Bridge the SportAccord World Mind Games’ Cultural and Social Programme featured a simultaneous match between Draughts masters Alexander Schwartzman and Alexander Presman. The pair were watched intently by visiting primary school students, who were also among the eager crowds watching the Xiangqi competition earlier in the week.

The first World Mind Games seem to have been a great success and the International Federation of Poker, which has been observing events in Beijing, hopes to be a part of any future Games.

Since its formation in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2009, the IFP has worked towards obtaining Mind Sport status for poker. The past two years have been spent working closely with the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA), earning observer status along with Xiangqi.

Fans of Mind Sports can follow the action on the SportAccord World Mind Games website which also hosts a live stream of events in Beijing, full details of which can be found at: http://www.worldmindgames.net/en/.