2019 Year End Review

2019 has been a breakthrough year for Match Poker! It began with a slightly delayed 2018 Nations Cup held in Dublin, Ireland at the beautiful Boyne Hill House as the home nation were looking to defend their World Championship after being victorious at the 2017 Nations Cup in Oxford. Debutants Ukraine arrived with a large contingent and got their strategy spot on, beating the Irish and Germans who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively to clinch the Match Poker World Championship on their first attempt! This event also marked the first time Match Poker athletes were subject to WADA tests during competition – which has now become a norm at all IFMP events. Match Poker is a sport and we must function like any other sport, ensuring clean competition and adhering to global sporting rules & regulations set by the IOC & GAISF.

The excitement from the Dublin event lead to Kyiv, Ukraine securing the hosting of the 2019 European Nations Cup. This event would be the first in IFMP’s 2019 events calendar and would be followed by an Asian and America’s Nations Cup which would then culminate into the grand Nations Cup Finals. 13 European Nations came together in Kyiv to battle it out as the Irish defended their European Championships from the previous edition of this event held in Cyprus. All teams would play together in the group stages over the first 2 days after which they would break into a top 6 (Cup) and bottom 7 (Plate). With 7 European spots up for grabs, and scores being reset to 0 after the group stages, it was all to play for with every nation having a fighting chance at qualifying! Some debutants but many familiar faces lead to intense competition over 3 days and finally saw the Spaniards make an incredible comeback and lift the trophy! Ireland finished 2nd, Ukraine 3rd, Belarus 4th, Poland 5th and Germany 6th – all of whom secured qualification to the Nations Cup Finals. The last qualification spot was contested by Hungary, Serbia, UK, Lithuania, Denmark, Estonia and Italy with Lithuania stepping up to the occasion to be crowned winners of the ‘Plate’ and the last European nation to participate in the finals.

Next was the Asian Championships, held in Taoyuan, Taiwan after the Taiwanese also made their debut at the Dublin event. This event saw 9 Asian nations compete for continental glory as 5 qualification spots were up for grabs for the World Finals. Similar structure to the European event, all 9 teams play together in the group stages through 2 entire days after which they break into the top 4 (Cup) and bottom 5 (Plate). Top 4 automatically qualify but only the winner of the Plate joins them at the finals. Team India took an early lead and managed to ride some ups and downs to finish the group stages on top of the leaderboard with Australia and Singapore in 2nd and 3rd. The fight for 4th went right down to the wire and the home team Taiwan finally managed to get past the Israelis by just one point! A slight change in format saw the Cup play out 4-handed and the Plate 5-handed – with teams needing to adapt their playing styles and strategies constantly. A big push from the Indians secured the Asian Championship for them in the last 3 hands, away from the home team who lead for most of the final sessions! It was always two-horse race in the Plate as Israel and Korea kept putting the pressure on each other for the top spot with the Koreans breaking away and taking a lead in the last session of play to secure their qualification and win the Plate!

We then move to Mumbai, India for the 4th season of the world’s first pro Match Poker league – the MatchIPL (Indian Poker League). 9 franchises all representing different part of India were ready to dethrone the Pune Kings after their triumph in season 3. Group stages included all teams playing together for the first 6 sessions of play after which the bottom 3 teams would be eliminated and the top 6 would play 2 final sessions with 50% of their scores being carried over. The Mumbai All Stars (season 1 champions and season 3 runners-up) and Haryana Hawks (season 2 champions) established themselves as the teams to watch out for quite early on and maintained the top 2 spots through the group stages. A nail biting finish to the groups saw the Bangalore Royals make the top 6 by a single point over the Kolkata Diamonds! The final sessions saw the Haryana Hawks implement the perfect winning strategy by taking a lead in session 1 and consolidating it in session 2, leading to their 2nd National Championship in 3 seasons!

Unfortunate political and civil circumstances in Peru lead to the postponement of our Nations Cup Finals from December to the last week of February. We thank our participating nations for their support and understanding, and promise to deliver our most sensational Nations Cup event yet! 2020 will see Match Poker’s link with education and corporates strengthen as we launch University and City Leagues in various nations to complement our existing events calendar comprising of European, Asian and American Nations Cup events all culminating into our Grand Nations Cup Final at the end of the year. 2019 saw over 2,500 hands of Match Poker played by over 35 teams at IFMP events and 30 anti-doping tests successfully completed! We expect to have 50+ nations participating in these events and hope to bring Match Poker into many more territories as we continue to grow this exciting sport globally! We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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.