First Nation to Qualify for the Nations Cup, Will Austria also be the Last Nation Standing?

The Austrian PokerSport Association hosted the first-ever qualifying event for Match Poker, in Vienna in December 2012 which saw European nations competing to participate in the 2013 European Nations Cup held in Paphos, Cyprus!

Their most recent participation was in the 2017 Nations Cup held in Oxford, UK which saw them finish in 8th place. Now 5 years later they are back and eager to put on a much more impressive performance in Macedonia.

The Austrian team were commanding and impressive in their qualifying match, taking it right down to the wire and defeating Germany for the top spot! No doubt their neighbours Switzerland and Germany will be looking for revenge in Macedonia.

Here is the Austrian National Match Poker Team’s Squad for the 2021 Nations Cup Finals:


Name: Herbert Bieber

Age: 70

Profession: Retired

About: I have been playing poker for more than 20 years and I love this game. My favourite discipline is live MTT and I have played in several countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, England). I highly appreciate poker theory, love to analyse quizzes and invest a lot of time to increase my poker skills.


Name: Hedy Bieber

Age: 69

Profession: Retired after more than three decades in the public affairs business. Playing poker for about 8 years.


Name: Rainer Sumaric

Age: 52

Profession: Sales Director

About: Over 15 years ago, a customer asked me if I liked to play poker. I had no idea and went along to a club night. Since then, I like the game very much (most of the time) and I love the variety at a live game. Besides Texas Holdem, I really enjoy playing dealer’s choice. I appreciate very much in my current club that workshops are also offered, because by learning and playing you get better and that’s what I try to do with every game.


Name: Andreas Schwaiger

Age: 56

Profession: Employee – City of Vienna

About: A German TV show with American poker pros attracted my poker interest. After watching a few shows I setup an account to play online. Some initial success inspired me to practice step by step, failures motivated me to go on and to practice even harder. Meanwhile I’ve played poker for 15 years, especially live tournaments.


Name: Fabian Gritsch

Age: 28

Profession: Federal Employee

About: I have been playing poker for roughly 8 Years. Playing mostly live MTTs, but also a fair bit of online. I take the game pretty seriously and see it as a nice income on the side.


Name: Hartwig Hofer

Age: 36

Profession: Poker player

About: I started playing poker 15 years ago straight after watching James Bond Casino Royal. I play mostly online cash games heads-up and some MTTs on the side.

 


Name: Sebastian Klebert

Age: 36

Profession: Network Development Operations Manager

About: A dear friend brought me along to a game fifteen years ago and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with the game of poker.

I’ve been heading one of Austria’s oldest poker clubs, Pokerclub Showdown, for more than a decade now and really enjoy the different variants of the game, constantly having to solve new problems and challenges but most of all the wonderful community.


 

Macedonia to Host the Nations Cup Finals in May

 

IFMP’s first live event since the Asian Nations Cup held in Taipei, Taiwan in November 2019 and we could not be more excited to bring our qualified nations together and competing for the Match Poker World Championship!

We hosted a series of virtual qualifiers throughout 2021, where Asian and European national teams participated from a central venue to secure their qualification for the 2021 Nations Cup Finals.

Over 25 national teams participated in 11 individual qualifying events over 4 months, leading to the following list of qualified teams:

  • India
  • Mongolia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Singapore
  • Israel
  • Iceland
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Macedonia
  • Italy

These nations will be joined by the current Nations Cup Champions, for 2019 and 2020, Team Ukraine who will be looking to defend their title for the second time after successfully doing so for the first time in the 2020 Virtual Nations Cup.

 

 

The beautiful town of Gevgelija will be our host city in Macedonia with the Apollonia Hotel being our venue.

The 2021 Nations Cup will kick off on 23rd May and run till the 27th, incorporating an exciting elimination structure playing down to a final 6 teams for the final session of play.

3 full days of play will ensure both physical and mental stamina are tested along with Match Poker skill and strategy, producing a truly deserving World Champion.

The IFMP team will be visiting Gevgelija on 18 & 19 April for a pre-event press conference with the Mayor of the town and a site visit with the local organising committee.

It has been very encouraging to see the growth of Match Poker in Macedonia, with the first season of the national league being run very successfully and producing a national champion, the Vardar Sharks, to go on to represent the league in the Global Champions League later this year.

Match Poker’s formal sporting recognition by GAISF has been extremely important in helping its national acceptance as a mind sport and game of skill within our member nations.

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!

The Austrians are Back and Ready to Prove Themselves

Introducing Team Austria for the 2021 Nations Cup Qualifiers for Europe:

Theresa Berthold (34, HR Manager) likes the entertaining aspect of poker as much as the competitive characteristic. In her profession she often has to “read” human behaviour and interests which brings her an advantage on the poker table. She loves both talking about poker strategy and enjoying the beauty of the game when playing with friends.

 

Sebastian Klebert (35, Corporate Identity Specialist) started playing poker in 2008 at the club he has now been president of for a number of years. He tremendously enjoys the sense of community in the poker world and trying to understand new poker concepts together with his poker friends.

 

 

Alexandra Enders (36, Associate Manager) plays Poker since 2007. She is the first female player ever who won the Austrian Poker Masters. Poker requires skill and self-control to win consistently and that’s why she is obsessed by the game. It’s a great honour for her to be part of the Austrian team and her goal is helping Austria to qualify for the Nations Cup Finals 2021.

 

Jörg Liwa (47, IT Expert, self employed) started playing home game poker after watching movies like “The Sting” and “The Cincinnati Kid”. As a former national youth bridge player for Austria he is also experienced in matchplay and looks forward to this new competitive style for poker.

 

Martin Sturc (36, Teacher) founded the Austrian Pokersport Association back in 2006 and wrote his diploma thesis about poker being a mind sport rather than a game of chance. He worked as poker coach in Austria and Germany and was the only poker professional that could not be beaten by DeepStack, the most sophisticated poker AI on the market, in a study executed by researchers of the University of Alberta in Canada.

 

Jakob Enders (39, Consultant) is board member of the Austrian Pokersport Association (APSA) and plays Poker since 2007. He has been #1 of the Austrian Ranking for about 2 years as well as two times Viennese Poker Champion. He loves playing poker and is looking forward to represent Austria at the Nations Cup Qualifier 2021.

 

Herbert Bieber (69, IT-Security and Privacy Consultant, retired) has been playing poker for about 20 years and loves this game. His favourite discipline is live MTT and he has already played in several countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, England). He highly appreciates poker theory, loves to analyse quizzes and invest a lot of time to increase his poker skills.