2019 European Nations Cup Round Up

Current Match Poker World Champions, Ukraine, played host to the 2019 European Nations Cup after their incredible debut performance in Dublin at the 2018 Nations Cup where they managed to dethrone the Irish on home soil to become gold medalists.

The European championships this year sees 13 nations come together to determine who will join Ukraine on the Road to Peru as European qualifiers at the Nations Cup Finals in December, and to see if Ireland can defend their continental crown!

Participating nations were Ukraine, Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, Spain and the UK. All apart from Belarus have participated in a Match Poker event previously, some more often than others. Day one started with an opening ceremony and dinner where president of the Ukraine Sports Poker Federation, Sergey Efimenko, thanked all participants for being there and welcomed everyone to Kyiv and Ukraine. IFMP president Patrick Nally then spoke about the events calendar for the rest of this year which includes continental championships in Asia and America’s to determine the qualifiers for the Nations Cup Final in Peru. These regional qualifiers leading up to a grand finale event will be an annual occurrence for Match Poker athletes going forward.

100 hands were played on day one and we saw a familiar sight in Ireland ending the day in the lead with Lithuania and Ukraine behind them. Only 20% of the group stages had been played and the bottom 3 of UK, Spain and Denmark could use the night to analyse their play and return the next morning with a new team strategy. Day two was scheduled to see 6 sessions of 50 hands each with the balance 2 sessions of 50 hands being played on the morning of day 3. The Estonians put in a strong performance in the morning and after 200 hands held the lead going into lunch with Ireland, Ukraine and Germany on their heels. The fan zone was buzzing as team analysts and strategists carefully observed their teams play, taking meticulous notes which were conveyed during the breaks in play. Along with the athletes having to fulfil their anti-doping obligations, the breaks between sessions were as important as the actual time spent playing!

The next 100 hands saw Spain and Italy climb up the leaderboard but not enough to topple Germany, Ireland and Ukraine in the top 3 with the Germans in the lead overall after 300 hands had been played. Day 2 ended with the first Match Poker world champions, Germany, in the lead! 400 hands had been played with another 100 to go before the top 6 and bottom 7 are separated for the finals. Fierce competition throughout with various teams outperforming the others in certain sessions but after a marathon 500 hands of highly competitive Match Poker we had our top 6 – Germany, Ireland, Spain, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. The 3 most consistent teams in Germany, Ukraine and Ireland making the top 6 was no surprise. Big push from the Spaniards towards the end ensured they cemented their spot along with the Poles and Belorussians.

Ukraine finishing in the top 6 meant that the winner of the Plate Championship (bottom 7 teams) would also secure their spot to Peru and the Nations Cup Finals. All to play for now as the scores were reset to zero and the finals of the Cup (top 6) and Plate (bottom 7) kicked off after lunch on day 3. These would have 4 sessions of 60 hands each to take the total number of hands to be played to 740! The scoreboard was hidden after the halfway point so players would have to wait till the awards ceremony to know who won the championship and which nation was joining them in Peru.

Excitement and nervousness enveloped the room as thanks were offered by Sergey as Patrick was handed the microphone to make the final announcements. When Lithuania was announced as the winners of the Plate and the last team to qualify to the Finals in Peru, they erupted with joy as though they’d just been crowned World Champions! Skirmantas, team captain and president of the national federation, thanked the other teams and expressed his gratitude in being the last nation to qualify. To top if off, Dainius from Team Lithuania was awarded Player of the Tournament! Now it was time to announce the European Champions – Ireland were looking confident and the others quite nervous. Surprisingly Germany finished 6th, Belarus 5th, Poland 4th and Ukraine 3rd – these 3 teams had just 3.5 points between them!!! Then Ireland were announced as runners-up and the roar that emerged from the Spanish contingent was absolutely incredible! They all began jumping and screaming with joy, hugging each other and unable to contain their emotions! Congratulations Team Spain, on a very well deserved and hard fought Match Poker European Championship.

The Serbians are Aiming at Top 6 and Peruvian Dreams!

Being amongst IFMP’s stronger national federations, Team Serbia will be eager to make their performance in international competitions match their local structure and secure their spot in Peru.

Vladimir Bozinovic – 30 year old poker player from Serbia. Started playing poker back in 2006, turned pro a few years later. Mostly playing cash games, but had some tournament success as well, including winning a World Poker Tour main event in 2013. Loves travelling and exploring world restaurants, resides in Belgrade with his wife and son.

Danilo Velasevic – 31 year old poker player from Serbia. He’s been a professional poker player since 2013. He plays live high stakes cash games and online and live MTT’s.

Vlada Stojanović  – Tournament poker professional, 32 years old. Coach at pocar.com

Danka Todorovic – is a poker player from Belgrade, capital of Serbia. Born and raised in Belgrade, she graduated in 2009 at Faculty of Philology at the University of Belgrade. Today she owns and manages a family business, a bar known as Splav Knjaz in Belgrade on Sava river. She started playing poker with her father back in 2008 and is proud to be the daughter of one of the pioneers of Texas Hold’em poker players in Serbia, Žarko Stokanić.

Slobodan Ružičić – Serbian godfather of poker. One of few people responsible for bringing poker in Serbia in 2006. and developing it to higher levels. Owns a legal poker room in Grand casino Belgrade. Successful businessman and father of two, also competes in the highest stakes both cash games and tournaments. Known worldwide by his nickname “Ruza”.

Mladen Kratović – Born and raised in Belgrade, he started playing poker professionally after college in 2013. He has several notable results in online and live tournaments, but the one he’s most proud of is winning Battle of Malta high roller in 2015. Passionate about sports, traveling, and FPL.

Miloš Babović – Serbian poker professional since 2013, won several online tournament series, luckiest player in Eastern Europe, proud husband and father.

A Revamped UK Team Looking to Impress in Kyiv

Tony Dobbie – Seasoned international marketeer. Passionate about keeping fit and cooking. Determined to learn something new with every game of poker. Perfected ‘Poker face’ by telling his children about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Jon Theobald – Normally found in the photographers pit at rock concerts, Jon is also a licensed drone pilot for his own photo/video business. Mainly a live recreational player, when off the table he enjoys riding his motorcycle and tending to his bees.
Mike Tattersfield – Usually salt encrusted spending much time at sea as a professional yacht skipper. Honed my Texas Hold’em skills during a winter at a BAS scientific station in the Antarctic. I’m a skier/boarder, hang glider pilot and all round top bloke. Although, not as shinny as I used to be.  Hoping to be fully spruced up by the time cards are dealt.
Sue Smith – My hobbies include golf and walking my dog. Poker fame includes cashing twice in WSOP in Vegas.
Kevin Pike – Hobbies= Mountaineering. Interests=Survival of the aforementioned. Work Prowess=Making money when ever possible. Poker Prowess= ditto the above.
Andy Gallagher – Retired IT consultant and lecturer. Now an ’empty nester’ and free to try out a new career-whatever that maybe? Love all sport, now more as a spectator and have had an excellent track record in junior coaching. Hobbiest poker player

The Hungarians are Eager to Make their Mark in Kyiv

The Hungarian National Match Poker team for the 2019 European Nations Cup in Kyiv is:

Bianka Breda – Hungarian R’n’B DJ and amateur poker player. She’s playing poker for fun both live and online, but don’t misjudge her. Poker is in her blood.

Marcell Réti – Sport promoter and hobby poker player. He’s a cash game expert. Live poker player. He likes Match Poker and every sport, where one must to fight for the win. The youngest man in the Hungarian team.

Judit Zsoldos – From the start member of the Hungarian Match Poker team. Played in The Table in 2011 and in Cyprus at the European Nations Cup 2013. Hungarian Ladies Open winner. Cash game and Omaha player.
Laszlo Bréda – Laszlo from the start member of the Hungarian Match Poker team. Born a tournament player. One of the best amateur score table. Strong skills and intuition.
Gergely Tatár – The president of the Hungarian Poker Association since 2007. Founded poker clubs in Hungary and Slovakia. Played poker in USA, England, Cyprus, Ghana, Cabo Verde, Austria, Poland, France, Slovakia and Romania.
Peter Gal – For the first time I met with Texas Hold’em poker in 2005. At the beginning I worked as poker dealer, then I became a floorman and a professional leader. I had my own Poker Club, and I helped other clubs to improve. From 2010 to 2018 I was the floorman in the first poker club of Hungary. I am a recreational poker player, I just treat poker as a hobby. In 2013 I played Match Poker for the first time in Vienna as a member of the Hungarian team, then in Cyprus at the European Nations Cup.

Will the Irish Rise Up and Retain their European Crown?

Team Ireland have been extremely impressive and their accolades speak for their incredible Match Poker skill:

Winners of the 2013 European Nations Cup in Cyprus

Winners of the 2017 Nations Cup in Oxford

Runners-up of the 2019 Nations Cup in Dublin

Following is the Irish squad for their defence of the European Nations Cup:

Fintan Gavin  – One of the most-decorated players in Irish poker history. Sixth in the all-time money listings having finished Runner-up in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona Main Event in 2008, won a UKIPT title in 2011, and dozens of more ranking events in his native Ireland. While not at the tables you will find Fintan in the Commentary booth as anchor for English broadcast teams during major festivals including the W.S.O.P.E & the Irish Poker Open.

Karen Muir – She has been an integral part of the Irish Match Poker team since 2017 and helped them to their various titles! Recent M.C.O.P Amsterdam support event champion. 10+ years NLH tournament experience. Regular on the Cash game festival Circuit. Finished top 10 player in her previous 2 Match Poker events.

Roy BrindleyRoy ‘the boy’ Brindley first tournament cash stretches back to early 2002. Since then Roy has amassed €800k+ in NLH & Omaha events throughout Europe. Author of the best selling biography Life’s a Gamble, Roy has more recently adapted his skill set to poker commentary & F1 sports punditry.

Johnathen McCullagh – better known as Johny from Ireland’s capital Dublin. “I love to travel to new places and meet new people which me and my partner Giulliana have done a lot of in our 3 years together, I like animals, going to the gym, cooking and tournament poker. My background is on-line MTT’s but I have transitioned to live tournaments in the last few years.”

Giulliana Olivera – Originally from Brazil I live in Ireland with my partner Johny. I’ve been part of the live poker scene coming on 4 years and have had some success including the Partypoker Ladies title in 2017. I like to meet new people travel and shop. I also love animals. To represent Ireland as part of the Match poker team is dream come true.

Chris Dowling – €800k in tournament winnings. Regarded as the most consistence Hold’em player in Ireland over the last decade. Final tabled several International ranking events. More recently competes & makes his living from high stakes Omaha cash games.. Like Karen and Fintan, Chris has also represented the Irish national Match Poker team since 2017 and done exceptionally well.