A Truly Nail-Biting Asian Nations Cup!

Asian Nations Cup Round Up

The 2019 Asian Nations Cup was hosted in Taoyuan city, Taiwan and saw 9 highly skilled Asian nations participating, namely Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Israel, India, Japan, Philippines and Korea!

The previous Asian Championships were held in Sanya, China in 2013 and it was great to see some familiar faces in Taiwan. Match Poker debutants included Hong Kong, Philippines and Korea while Australia, Singapore, India, Israel and Japan had all participated in the 2013 Asian Nations Cup which was won by China. Excitement was building as 5 spots on the Road to Peru would be up for grabs from the 9 participating teams. These 5 qualifiers would join Ukraine, 6 European qualifiers, Peru and a few other select American teams for the Nations Cup Finals.


The event kicked off with a grand opening ceremony where the local minister of sport was in attendance and formally opened the event, toasting to its success with a glass of champagne along with all the participating teams captains. After a quick round of team introductions, dinner and a strategy session we jumped right into a formal player briefing held by IFMP’s Match Officials Joe Barnard and Varun Goenka.

The fan zone was packed with eager Match Poker athletes and as the first session of play kicked off, so did the screens with all card information provided face up ensuring complete transparency! 50 hands were played on day one and the leaderboard showed Team India in the lead with Korea, Australia, Israel and Taiwan taking up the remaining ‘Peru spots’ but it was way too early to make any predictions.


After a long night of review, analysis and strategy, the teams arrived ready for day 2 which would see them play 5 sessions of 50 hands each to make up a total of 300 hands in the group stages before breaking into a top 4 fight for the Nations Cup and the other 5 battling for the Nations Plate and the final Peru spot! The Koreans made a big push in the 2 morning sessions, topping the leaderboard ahead of India at the halfway point of the group stages (150 hands) by a whopping 59 points! Taiwan, Australia and Israel still held the other 3 of the top 5 spots.

The next 50 hands saw India reclaim the top spot but we also saw Team Singapore finally flex their Match Poker skills and begin climbing up the leaderboard to 5th as Israel dropped down to 6th. The last 100 hands in the group stages were coming up and there was bound to be a lot of fluctuations in the standings as teams were looking to try different strategies with the hope of breaking into the top 4 to solidify their spot in the World Championships.


Singapore was determined to continue their ascent up the leaderboard and they sat 2nd after 250 hands had been played! Just 15 points stood between Australia, Taiwan, Korea and Israel in 3rd to 6th with India sitting 30+ points clear at the top. The final group stage session was underway and the fan zone was buzzing with nervousness as the fight for the top 4 was extremely close!

Every hand being played was watched with hawk eyes as Taiwan, Israel and Australia were fighting for two qualification spots. A huge roar erupted from the fan zone as the leaderboard updated with scores from the 300th hand, marking the end of the group stages and along with that confirming Taiwan’s spot in the top 4 by just one point over Israel!!!

Dejected Israeli faces were seen leaving the room as celebrations began among the home team’s large contingent. Team India stood proud with their flag in front of the leaderboard and posed for photos as the winners of the group stages with Singapore in 2nd and Australia in 3rd. Israel and Korea were particularly disappointed at not making the top 4 but they still had a shot at the 5th Peru spot via the Nations Plate competition. The day ended with a trip to the nearby night market as the athletes socialised with one another outside of the event venue while enjoying local delicacies.


The final day saw the creation of two separate tournaments – the Cup and the Plate, along with being the day Asian Match Poker athletes would be tested by WADA for any performance enhancing substances. The Asian Nations Cup would be competed by the top 4 qualified teams of India, Singapore, Australia and Taiwan, who played in a 4×4 format for 5 sessions of 60 hands each to determine the new Asian Match Poker Champions!

In the Asian Nations Plate the remaining 5 teams played in a 5×5 format for 5 sessions of 50 hands each to determine who the last team to join the top 4 in Peru will be, and be awarded with the Asian Nations Plate trophy. Scores were reset to 0 and play kicked off for both competitions. Quite early it was evident that the Plate would be competed by Korea and Israel mainly as the 2 teams were neck and neck at the end of the first session.

The Cup saw home team Taiwan take a 25+ point lead after session 1! Session 2 ended with Australia closing the gap on Taiwan in the Cup and Korea extending their advantage in the Plate.


The final 2 sessions of play were in the dark as the leaderboards were switched off and final scores would be announced at the closing ceremony and awards function later that night. India made up a lot of ground in session 3 to close the gap to within 6.5 points of Taiwan with one session to go in the Cup while the Plate saw Israel now top the leaderboard but by a mere 3.5 points from Korea!

Tensions were high and strategy was the need of the hour with teams huddling together and planning their collective approach for the final session of the event. An incredible finish to what was a fantastic event lead to the closing ceremony and as our local host David Tai thanked the teams for being a part of the 2019 Asian Nations Cup, the final scores were being handed to IFMP president Patrick Nally to announce to the athletes and fans.


Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong finished 5th, 4th and 3rd in the Plate with Korea finally securing their Peru spot over the Israelis by a comfortable 61 points! Korea’s Lim Yohwan was also awarded player of the tournament as they came up to collect their award. Now time for the Asian Nations Cup standings – in 4th place with 730 points was Singapore, in 3rd place with 750 points was Australia who’s captain Julius Colman graciously accepted medals and thanked the hosts for an extremely enjoyable event.

It was now between India and Taiwan for the top spot and you could cut the tension in the room with a knife as everyone waited for the final announcement with bated breath. As Patrick Nally said, ‘The new Asian Nations Cup Champions are… INDIA’ the outpour of jubilation and excitement from the Indian contingent was absolutely incredible to see.

The players were ecstatic and couldn’t control their emotions as they began jumping around and hugging one another celebrating this monumental achievement! Team Taiwan graciously came up and received their silver medals while congratulating the Indians on their victory. The 5 qualified nations will now work hard and prepare themselves for the global challenge that lies ahead in the form of the Nations Cup Finals where their skills will be tested against top nations from Europe, North and South America!

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.