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!

Team Croatia make their Match Poker Debut this Saturday!

The Croatian National Match Poker squad, represented by the Croatian Poker Players Association, is as follows:

Team Member – Goran Vejnović

Age: 48

Profession: Professional Poker Player

Bio: He is playing poker since his high school and has a very good regional result. One of his best results where he had prize pool rewards were Gorica (Slovenia) 1,000,000 E tournament, Split (Croatia) 200,000 E tournament and his latest and favourite tournament in Barcelona (Spain). He is also a huge fan of a local football club, Hajduk Split.


Team Member – Hana Šoljan

Age: 36

Profession: Founder of Croatia Women’s Poker team

Bio: She was among the first sponsored players in Croatia. For years she has been promoting poker as a sport in her country and other countries. She is the founder of the first women’s poker team in Croatia. She has always encouraged women to play poker and and has won several international ladies tournaments herself. The topic of her thesis at the Faculty of Economics was “Analysis of the Applicability of Poker Skills in Business Situations”. She believes that the skill of playing poker helps in business, but also in life. Today she works as a copywriter and designs commercials and also works in one of the largest retail companies in Croatia.


Team Member – Marko Bojanović

Age: 32

Profession: CEO of Canetti Porte company

Bio: Ex-dealer who decided to stop creating luck for other players, but for himself instead. Entrepreneur with MBA in project management who likes to take risk, both in poker and private life.


Team Member – Zdravko Rajić

Age: 56

Profession: Private family hotel owner

Bio: Zdravko is a passionate poker lover and player. He is been in a business for a long time and lately he is having most luck in Czech Republic and Germany. He also likes water skiing.


Team Member – Željka Kvastek

Age: 42

Profession: Financial Accountant

Bio: Passionate poker player whose poker skills are more than pure numbers. Players don’t take her easily since they know their chips might end on the wrong side of their balance sheet. She plays poker for more than a decade now.


Team Member – Ivan Bojanović

Age: 57

Profession: President of the Croatian Poker Players Association

Bio: He has been in the poker business for more than 20 years. He organised several international poker tournaments in Croatia and is determined to present poker as a mind sport and game of skill, not as a “game of luck”.


Team Member – Visnja Luetic

Age: 45

Profession: Model and photographer

Bio: Most versatile player in a team. She is a Poker player, Artist, Dreamer, professional Fitness model and a photographer. She is also a traveler and dog lover.


Team Member – Petar Sosic

Age: 57

Profession: Restaurants owner

Bio: Owner of several of the most professional restaurants on the Adriatic coast who likes life and enjoys playing poker. He follows poker actively and promote it as a sport. He is also a humanitarian.