2021 Review – A Year of Challenges and Progress

2021 saw IFMP make considerable progress after a rather quiet pandemic hit 2020. With the constantly changing situation caused by Covid, we didn’t want to be dependent on live events for Match Poker activity this year. We therefore decided to run virtual qualifiers for the 2021 Nations Cup Finals for our member nations in Asia and Europe. Being the world’s only recognised digital sport, Match Poker has the unique advantage of digital gameplay as compared to other conventional sports which are more physical in nature. We used this to our advantage and re-created the live Match Poker environment linking a video conference platform in with Match Poker gameplay, thus enabling the athletes to see and talk with each other just like they would at a live event, while playing Match Poker for their nation.
We ran a total of 10 qualifiers, which produced 5 Asian and 6 European qualifiers who will attempt to stop Ukraine from wining their 3rd World Championship in a row! 200 unique hands of Match Poker were played in each qualifier, giving us 2000 hands played by 25 participating nations. Over 200 athletes competed for their nations, testing themselves in this skill-based format with the aim of securing a spot at the finals. The qualified nations are India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Singapore from Asia, with Austria, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Macedonia and Switzerland from Europe. The virtual qualifiers allowed many nations, who have previously not been able to participate in live events, to play, compete and experience Match Poker. It has been fantastic to see our sport grow and reach so many new countries this year.
One prime example of this effect is the birth of the Mongolian National Match Poker League! 12 teams participated in the first season of the league, which took place on 11th and 12th December in Ulaanbaatar and saw 500 hands played across the 2 match days. Every team had atleast one male and one female member in their squad, across various age groups once again reinforcing that Match Poker is a fully inclusive sport. Team Pokerfriends were crowned Champions with 749.5 points, Team Shrup came 2nd with 723 points and Team Megamind was 3rd with 710 points. Trophies, medals and prize money was awarded to the top 3 finishing teams and top 3 individual players. The Mongolian NF will use this event and the content captured to approach their National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Sports Authority (NSA) for the formal recognition of Match Poker as a sport in Mongolia and for their national federation as a national governing body of sport, linked to IFMP as the global representative.
IFMP’s observer membership of GAISF was extended for another 2 years as we continue our fight for full recognition. One of the main aims of encouraging local Match Poker activity by way of national leagues was to be able to evidence to the NOC and NSA of your nation that we are a sport, recognised globally, played digitally, and are not anything like conventional gaming or gambling. Once the authorities see it in action, being played in teams, without the presence of physical cards or chips, they will better understand what we have been trying to explain to them for so long. We are hopeful that this all will work to our advantage and we can provide the GAISF membership council with plenty of new national recognition certificates in the coming year.
We are working hard towards a packed events calendar for 2022, with a Champions League style finale event for our many national league champions, a Global University Challenge involving student Match Poker teams from universities and colleges across the globe, and of course our Continental Championships (Asia, Europe, America’s) all culminating in a Nations Cup Final at the end of the year. There have been a few nations that have expressed their desire to host an event and we are evaluating our options, and would encourage other nations who are interested to let us know at the earliest.
Finally can we take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday period. Stay safe, take care of yourself and your loved ones and let’s make 2022 the year where Match Poker really takes off! Happy Holidays and wish you a fantastic New Year!

Can Ukraine make it 3 World Championships in a row?

After their debut performance and victory at the 2019 Nations Cup in Dublin, the Ukrainian national team finished 3rd in the European Championships in Kyiv only to successfully defend their World Championship and win it once again at the 2020 Nations Cup – making them the first nation to win it twice, and that too in back to back years!!!

 

Ukraine National Team

Olga Iermolcheva, 33 years old, professional poker player

The most successful female poker player of Ukraine. Olga proved herself great during the Nations Cup 2019, scoring the most points for our team and showing the best result throughout the tournament! Iermolcheva is always ready for new challenges and fights till the end!

 

Hanna Mazno, 31 years old, professional poker player

Hanna made her debut in the Ukrainian national team in 2020. And before that, she managed to become the winner of the selection event to the team, organized by PokerMatch. This player from Kharkiv managed to get ahead of almost 100 competitors and win a place in the main team of the country. Well done!

 

Mykhailo Kedrovskyi (captain), 49 years old, professional poker player

The most experienced player on our team, Mykhailo has already lifted the Nations Cup above his head twice, and is always ready to show his best game or help his teammates with advice and support. This Kyiv-based player has won many trophies on live series in Ukraine and feels confident in the online game as well. A true captain!

 

Andrii Momot – 33 years old, IT-specialist, amateur poker player

The Ukrainian sports poker champion and a two-time world match poker champion, Andriy has played important hands at both the Dublin tournament and the online cup. This Kharkiv-based player always analyzes the game meticulously and helps his team prepare for the competition as good as possible.

 

Mykhailo Kobylinskyi – 31 years old, professional poker player

Misha started playing poker when he was a student. Over the years, he has truly matured and is now considered one of the most persistent poker players in Ukraine. This player has proved himself in tournaments with the national team and now has a gold medal of the world champion in his collection of trophies. Way to go!

 

Artem Kobylynskyi – 30 years old, professional poker player

A very dangerous opponent for any player who comes to the table with him. Artyom has made it to the EPT Super Final Main Event, and he has dozens of great results in online tournaments. Artyom always tries to show his best game in the Ukrainian team and does it excellently.

 

Renat Bohdanov – 23 years old, professional poker player

Renat quickly got into the list of the leading poker players in Ukraine. He has already won the WSOP Europe bracelet! In May 2020, Bohdanov played for the Ukrainian team for the first time and became the World Champion along with his partners. What an incredible start of the career!

Volodymyr Drokin – 31 years old, professional poker player

Volodymyr also has two “golds” of the Nations Cup on match poker. In addition, he has won the Ukrainian sports poker championship and has repeatedly been noted for his successful performances at the World Poker series. That includes the WSOP in Las Vegas. Drokin is a real fighter!

 

Andriy Lyubovetskiy – 30 years old, professional poker player

Another two-time world champion as a member of the Ukrainian team. Andriy has been successfully competing at large live tournaments and online series for a long time, and his opponents at the tables fear him for a reason. Andriy tries to get the most out of any hand and does it perfectly!

 

Mykhailo Gutyi – 31 years old, professional poker player

The titled Ukrainian player and owner of the WSOP Europe bracelet. Mykhailo has played two tournaments for the national team — in Kyiv, where he won bronze at the European Nations Cup in 2019, and gold at the World Championship in 2020. In addition to that, he got the MVP of the Nations Cup 2020 prize. Misha is a rocket!

 

Ivanna Soya (Yatsiuk) – 32 years old, professional poker player

Ivanna is a debutant of the Ukrainian national team. She has earned her place in the main team thanks to her excellent results. Lately Ivanna has won many big online tournaments and has proved her worth in the live series. Now it’s time to help the team win new trophies!

IFMP Welcomes Switzerland and Canada to the Match Poker Family

We are proud to announce two newly recognised member federations – Switzerland and Canada.

Switzerland will be represented by the Swiss Poker Sport Association which has been promoting poker as a sport in Switzerland for a number of years, running a successful national league and are eager to focus their efforts towards Match Poker.

Match Poker Canada will be IFMP’s Canadian NF, run by individuals who are well-versed with sport governance, management and administration, looking to introduce Match Poker to their nation.

IFMP has previously had members from both nations but due to non-adherence with IFMP’s national federation rules and obligations, the board and congress decided to rescind recognition of those organisations. We are proud to be associated with both these newly recognised national federations and are excited for the future of Match Poker in both Canada and Switzerland.

IFMP Mourns the Loss of our Founding Father, Gary Bowman

Remembering Gary Bowman (Roman Olynch), a legend:

Gary Bowman was the founding father of IFMP (International Federation of Match Poker). He was both a visionary and a pioneer. He saw the need for sporting enthusiasts, especially those American Football (NFL) supporters (based overseas), wanting to bet, and add to the excitement of following their team. This awareness was at a time prior to the digital revolution when communication was restricted to primarily postal, telephone and later fax contact. Having initially set up a postal system, and seeing the positive response, he developed a sophisticated telephone system, taking bets in real time by telephone. In essence Gary was the first to create what became known as “The Offshore Sports Book”, started by Gary and of course copied by many.

Gary Bowman with Dmitry Lesnoy at the 2013 Asian Nations Cup in Sanya, China

 

IFMP Vice-President Pedro Trengrouse with Gary at the 2017 Nations Cup in Oxford

Gary started in the UK, in Manchester, where he built an impressive structure which was later moved to Mauritius. His structure was a substantial 24 hour telephone call centre providing a betting service on a global scale.

As Gary was heavily committed to his telephone structure he did not switch to a digital structure as quick as his competitors. With more and more restrictions being placed on offshore gaming he decided to sell up and look for new horizons. Gary moved to his parents’ original homeland – Ukraine, settling in the City of Lviv. He fell in love with a building and gradually purchased every apartment in the centrally located apartment block. Once securing full ownership of the whole building he created The British Club where I became the second member following the first member, Lord Tom Pendry. Pendry and Gary formed a close relationship when Tom, a past Labour Shadow Sports Minister, helped Gary with licensing matters. http://britishclub.org

Gary with IFMP President Patrick Nally in Oxford

Gary once ensconced in Lviv started to invest in other projects, including a garlic farm as well as committing himself to many important local charities. His one burning ambition however was to make Poker a recognised sport and became both the founder and the patron of the original IFP (International Federation of Poker) which later became IFMP when his vision was realised and Match Poker became officially recognised as a sport in 2017.

Without Gary‘s vision and determination the International Federation would not exist, it was his perseverance that has enabled the project to move forward, it was his personal support, especially with the hosting of the first digital European Nations Cup event held in Cyprus in 2013, that enabled the sport to proceed. Gary was one of the founding directors of the sport, he will be sorely missed by the entire Match Poker family. To honour his memory and invaluable contribution to the sport of Match Poker, a Gary Bowman Cup will become a major international event within IFMP’s annual calendar.

RIP Gary we will miss you madly.

Written by Patrick Nally, close personal friend of Gary’s and president of IFMP.