Vanessa Selbst Blog 27feb12

Vanessa Selbst taking part in the Nations Cup last November

The skill versus luck argument, with a little help from Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst…

Selbst was lucky to win her first tournament in 2008, after two years of learning how to be a solid tournament poker player by scoring four cashes (including two final tables) at the World Series of Poker.

Selbst was lucky when, using this experience, she won her first WSOP bracelet in a pot-limit Omaha event, less than six months later.

Selbst was lucky when, just days later, she finished third in the WSOP heads-up championship.

Selbst was lucky when, before the year was out, she’d won the World Poker Finals event in Mashantucket, a tournament she was lucky to win again a year later.

Selbst was lucky when, in 2010, she won the North American Poker Tour (NAPT) main event at the Mohegan Sun, not far from Yale University where she studies law.

Selbst was lucky when, five months later, she flew to the south of France to win the Partouche Poker Tour main event.

Selbst was lucky when, a year later almost to the day, she won the NAPT Mohegan Sun main event again, the first player to win two NAPT main events.

Selbst was lucky when, in December 2011, she came third in the prestigious World Poker Tour Five Diamond Poker Classic.

Selbst was lucky most recently last week, when she won the Los Angeles Poker Classic.

In fact the only way Selbst is unlucky is that, while being one of the best poker players in the world, people still think her game is all about luck.

At the IFP we’re not so sure that “luck” is going to run out.


Boxing Gloves Blog 13feb12

The gloves are off, and on…

Promoting poker as a mind sport may be at the heart of what the International Federation of Poker is about, but it seems one entrepreneur has found an altogether different direction to take the game, a novel approach that you might describe as out of the box and into the ring.


Citing the loss of poker themed television in the United States, following the US Department of Justice’s action against major online poker companies, one man seeks to fill the gap with a show promoting the eclectic skills of pool, poker and mixed martial arts (MMA), packaging it together for a television audience in a show called Pool, Poker & Pain (PPP).

For poker players who might think a bad beat is pain enough, Blair Thein, a veteran of the MMA world, has been the developing the concept of this more literal bad beat for nearly a decade. That work is now paying off, a broadcast partnership in the process of forming to beam this unlikely combination to a TV screen near you.

“I have been working on PPP for eight years, but officially partnered with two-time Emmy award winner Doug Stanley from Deadliest Catch just seven weeks ago,” Thein told PokerNews recently.

“PPP got created when I was talking about how the pool world is one of the most untapped sports on the planet, and me being a high stakes nine-ball player and fighter, and poker being on fire, it just made sense to combine all three sports.”

The concept of PPP is quite simple. Contestants compete in all three disciplines, but secure victory only by thriving in each. The expert poker player who also knows their way around a pool table is unlikely to win if beaten to a pulp once they step into the ring.

It’s the kind of “Jeux Sans Frontières” format that might evoke a tinge of ridicule from some quarters, the notion of our beloved mind sport being reduced to a contest between those still able to think straight after walking (or being carried) from a round of MMA.

Thein, though, is adamant that PPP will be a serious and unique contest, adding that the 16 contestants will receive training from world class experts in each discipline, as they travel between Las Vegas and Florida, to ensure credibility.

For those who prefer their poker a little more “traditional” let’s say, you can always try the IFP world Championships later this year.


Cbth LogoFantastic news reached poker players in Brazil this week as the Brazilian Sports Ministry officially recognized poker as a sport.

The decision was announced in a private meeting with members of the Confederação Brasileira de Texas Hold’em (CBTH) over the weekend as the ministry officially gave its endorsement to the CBTH and accepted its registration to be the official governing body of poker in Brazil.

While little has been made public a statement has been published on the Brazilian Sport’s ministry’s website:

“Poker is a competitive discipline, which requires the participant to have intelligence, ability, and intellectual and behavioural skills in order to succeed. The CBTH represents the most extended definition of poker, Texas Hold’em and all the other variants of this game including but not exclusively Omaha, Omaha High / Low, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud High / Low, Razz and Mixed Games.”

Officially founded on 29 January 2009, CBTH was among the first member federations of the International Federation of Poker and shares many of its ambitions and CBTH president Igor Trafane was among the distinguished guest speakers at the 2011 IFP congress In London addressing delegates alongside Harvard Law Professor Charlie Nesson and sports marketing guru Patrick Nally. Trafane presented a road map to attendees from more than 40 nations on how to reach this goal of recognition.

Just two days later Trafane took part in the first IFP World Poker Championship event “The Table” finishing in third place and establishing himself as one of the great minds of poker both on and off the felt.

With the Brazilian Poker Tour starting in a few weeks, preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup under way, and the 2016 Olympic Games and World Mind games on the horizon, poker’s rise in this sports-mad country could not have come at a more appropriate time.


The rules of poker have never been non-negotiable. There are no tablets of stone etched with detailed rules for each eventuality. Hold’em has always been a case of two cards faced down and take it from there, but when it comes to everything else, the unpredictable whims of fortune have always been at the heart of what makes the game so interesting.

CB0K7007 (3)But should there be a more definitive guide, easing out the idea that, in some circumstances, the rules are up for debate? Is that even possible?

Take these examples.

In April 2010 the European Poker Tour main event in Berlin was rudely interrupted by masked men intent on taking with them the tournament’s prize money. The men, carrying a variety of persuasive implements, were able to grab some cash from startled tournament staff before fleeing.

All were quickly caught by German authorities, their planning not taking into account at least one member of the poker media recording events on a camera.

As this took place in the lobby of the tournament room was a scene of pandemonium as players looked for a convenient exit through various routes, one of which involved moving past the three remaining tables of the main event. In the rush chip stacks being knocked over, mixing with those on either side.

When things eventually returned to normal it seemed an impossible task to restart where players had left off.

Step forward tournament director Thomas Kremser charged with finding order amidst the mess.

Using a combination of footage from a security camera as well as that from the television production company the stacks were pieced back together. Anything else was at the discretion of Kremser, who used this, and the testimony of the players, to reassemble the tournament. Anything else he used personal judgement to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Examples like this may be rare but they’re not altogether unusual. Ask any tournament director and they will have a story of something almost unbelievable taking place. Each occasion depends on what the tournament director believes to be the best course of action, not an officially sanctioned decree in a book.

One such incident was recently highlighted on the Hendon Mob website. An edition of their “Ask the TD” series posed a question relating to a player carrying chips in their pocket, which is in breach of the rules. Yet even this “rule” was open to interpretation.

Click through the link and read yourself. You’ll find several tournament directors give individual answers, with most a personal take on the situation, dependant on numerous factors beyond the details in front of them – not unlike a poker hand which cannot be decided on mere hand detail; position, the type of player, the type of game and so on, must be factored in to obtain a reasonable answer.

The question remains, however, should there even be a definitive guide, a cast iron rule book that lays out the procedure for every eventuality, independent of any personal opinion or preference?

The IFP has taken the next step in outlining the rules of the game with the release of the Official Rules of Poker coming later this year. But there remains a large grey area, and the question remains, should there be?

We say maybe. Join the debate on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


International Federation of Poker president Anthony Holden has hailed Duplicate Poker as the “purest” version of the game.
Duplicate Poker borrows concepts from Duplicate Bridge and is, considered the perfect way for Poker players to highlight individual skill rather than good fortune”. Details of this version of the game have been published on the IFP website’s library page.

Poker has been classified as a Mind Sport since the IFP, led by Holden, succeeded in gaining the backing of the International Mind Sports Association in April 2010.

“Poker is played by millions around the world and Duplicate Poker is the game in its purest form,” Holden said. “Players compete against each other based on skill, without any fluctuation in chance. I believe that it’s the best way to highlight Poker as a game of strategic skill and as a Mind Sport.”
The IFP’s ambassador for Duplicate Poker, author and Poker player James McManus, added: “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. Like its fellow mind sports Chess, Go, and Duplicate Bridge, it’s a game of pure skill.”