I Stock 000016829352 X SmallTo those without a full time interest in golf, Watson is something of an exception in the golfing world. A left hander, he rejected golf lessons as a boy and has a style of play considered unconventional when compared to the top pros, who analyse every aspect of their game with mathematical precision.

The sporting headlines were dominated by events from Georgia this past weekend, when American Bubba Watson strode into the Augusta Clubhouse, tears in his eyes, to be presented with golf’s greatest prize the green jacket, awarded to all winners of The Masters

The Green jacket is to golf what a World Series bracelet is to poker. Not all great players will ever win one, and certainly there are great players that haven’t. But like the winner’s bracelet in poker it will always be something others strive towards, and winning it ensures the respect of peers.
The similarities between golf and poker go further than just the rewards, and that the two pursuits boast similar aspects (those ‘unconventional styles’ and that ‘mathematical precision’ sounds eerily like poker-speak).

Each pursuit takes a lifetime to master; Watson started as a small boy and stories of poker champions playing penny poker on their grandmother’s knee are plentiful. Each game is played by millions around the world, while only a handful ever goes on to win the most sought after prizes.
On a professional level the similarities go even further.

Just as in poker tournaments, where the winner of one event may not even reach the money in the next, it’s often the case in golf, with the winner of one event sometimes hardly figuring in the next major tournament, or the opposite, coming out of knowehere to win a major title.

Darren Clarke came out of nowhere to win The Open Championship in 2011, but had won only one event in the eight years prior. Conversely, Robert Varkonyi won the World Series main event in 2002 but has yet to repeat that success on a big stage. Regardless, he is still considered to be among the best players in the game.

Just as Bubba Watson may not win his next event, neither may Raul Mestre after winning the IFP World Championship. It’s not a fault, just the nature of the game, and something golfers and poker players learn to live with.

As Celina Lin, a successful poker player, once said of their profession, after being eliminated from a major event; “we travel the world getting knocked out of tournaments.”

It’s all part of the job for players like Lin, just as it is for Watson, both of whom grow used to departing tournaments early while at the same time accumulating lucrative winnings.

In fact Watson himself could have been mistaken for a poker player speaking after his win. “As of less than two years ago, I didn’t have a win,” he said. “Now I’ve got four. My goal, my dream has always been to have ten wins. This is a step in the right direction.”


30-4-12 - Phil Hellmuth


With the work of IFP gaining momentum in leaps and bounds, with new initiatives and progress being made almost on a daily basis, it’s sometimes easy to miss the landmarks worth celebrating, like that of yesterday, when the International Federation of Poker celebrated its third year anniversary, following its formation in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2009.

_MG_9762From 12 original members, IFP is now an organisation of more than 40 national federations, led by President Anthony Holden who has been instrumental in IFPs formation, as well as in creating the first IFP World Championships, played in London in 2011.So much has been achieved already but it’s what we have to look forward to that excites us most.In the coming months they’ll be a new look website. Not only that but soon you will be able to sign up for IFP membership and take advantage of a broad range of benefits aimed at dramatically enhancing your poker playing experience. Most significantly, IFP membership will allow you the chance to qualify for events, such as the 2012 The Table and the Nations Cup, played using Duplicate Poker.

Those familiar with IFPs work will know that duplicate poker, a form of the game in which players at different tables each receive the same cards, is a poker variant that dramatically reduces the element of variance in poker, leaving room for more skill.

IFP is collaborating with the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta, looking into variants of duplicate poker and exploring the notion of Duplicate Poker Ratings, something which could give members a true measure of a player’s poker skill.

In addition IFP membership will include a ranking system that will use a unique formula that will enable you to compare your progress alongside everyone family and friends, as well as other members across the world.

The IFP is also developing ideas to host duplicate poker online, incorporating the use of Artificial Intelligence, and is in the process of building state-of-the-art poker training tools for all IFP members to enjoy.

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone who sent messages this weekend supporting the work of the IFP, which were gratefully received. IFPs online community grows day by day. We hope you’ll agree that after three great years there is much more to come and we look forward to having you on board as we reach our fourth birthday.


Laptop Small 7may12When poker reached the internet a decade ago the gamers and maths whizzes that began turning their new found talents into careers raised a few eyebrows among the existing poker fraternity.

These players had learned their trade over years of hard work in live card rooms (paying significant amounts of money on their “education” in the process), and were suspicious of these new internet geeks who were competing against them in high stakes events having paid only a few dollars for their seat in an online satellite. They were clever, talented, a little socially awkward, and completely different to the old guard.

But these new pioneers had crammed in the equivalent apprenticeship playing online; on multiple tables, playing thousands of hands each day. They were often derided and exploited in a live poker environment (the term “internet qualifier” was almost an insult before it became simply cost effective), unable to compete when face to face with an old-timer who had been playing poker before they were born (something they would point out to the 21 year old who had just eliminated them).

But these geeks were about to change the very nature of poker, a new generation that used their minds in ways that turned words, previously reserved for insult, into new terms of endearment.

It’s not just in poker.

On television, geeks have been in the ascendant on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States shows such as The Big Bang Theory tell the geek’s side of the story, reshaping the cool, good looking poster boys of yesteryear. In the United Kingdom, Sherlock made logic and mental dexterity into the stuff of popular culture, although some may lay the credit at the feet of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.All share the same winning trait; heroes characterised above all by their intelligence, and if that means they do extremely well at school, talk about Battlestar Gallactica and implied odds all the time, then so be it. Either way, suddenly it was cool to be clever.

It’s worth pointing out that geeks have perhaps been with us for generations. The older generations of players didn’t simply fade away, in fact many of the pre-internet players kept their seat at the top table; adapting their game, just as the internet players had.

The world of Mind Sports is one that the intellect will thrive in, and that means poker, where new players brought to the game find the mental challenge appealing, a task that with the right application can be conquered.


Australian poker players woke up to some potentially good news this week as it emerged that the government may be on the brink of legalising online poker within six to 12 months.

The report, published in the Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph, stated that the government had briefed the gaming industry of this time frame, marking a shift in policy.

The Daily Telegraph went on to detail that online poker would be trialled for five years, while other forms of online gaming will be immediately approved. It also published an email to clients from Mark Bryan, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, which detailed the change.
“It seems (Communications Minister) Stephen Conroy’s department recently provided a brief on draft legislation.”
Mr Conroy’s office refused to deny that the briefing took place and that final reviews of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2011 were taking place.The current law permits Australians to play online poker but only on sites based in other countries. Australia has a vibrant poker community with the Aussie Millions, in Melbourne each January, being the biggest annual poker event in the southern hemisphere. The PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour also stages events in Australia, with the smaller junior Australia and New Zealand Poker Tour growing year on year.