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!

Stas and his Poker Fighters are ready to represent Israel!

 

The Israeli National Poker Team:

#42 Stas Tishkevich

35 years old lives in Hod Hasharon with his wife and 2 children. Team coach/player. Stas is a professional poker player and entrepreneur. He plays both Cash & MTTs and his best results to date include a 7th place finish at SCOOP Main Event 2013 for 90,877$, and a deep run in the WSOP Main Event 2020 where he finished 20th for 34,116$. He is a co-founder of the Israeli Poker Academy, a co-founder of the Poker-Fighter Training App, and the chairman of the Israeli Poker Union.

 

#89 Ifat Levy

47 years old, lives in Gedera. Married with 5 children, retired from IDF 3 years ago and now works as a history and citizenship teacher. Started playing Hold’em a few years ago but only after graduating the Israeli Poker Academy she discovered poker tournaments and fell in love with them.

#666 Eyal Pearl

Lives in Ramat Hasharon. Started playing poker 7 years ago. Loves the game, feels a great honour in representing Israel. As an Ultra-man finisher, he believes that both at the ultra-man challenge and at poker, patience is essential in order to succeed.

 

#8 Shachar Zvang

Lives in Ganne Tiqva with his amazing wife and 3 boys. Plays NLH for 15 years, mostly with friends. In the last 2 years he studied in the Israeli Poker Academy and started to think like a pro poker player. He’s thrilled to represent Israel in the Match Poker championship.

 

 

#19 Shimon Yaffe 

52 years old, lives in Tel Aviv. CEO of the Israeli Poker Union. Tournament Director of the Israeli Poker Championship company.

 

#17 Omri Elmaleh 

Lives in Ashdod. 34 years old. Playing Texas Hold’em for about 17 years, mostly tournaments, dreaming big.

 

#73 Ziv Leinwand

49 years old from Tel Aviv. Plays Texas Hold’em since 2010, mostly cash. A passionate advocate for poker regulation & legalisation, Ziv is hi-tech executive and entrepreneur.

 

 

#10 Ronen Val

Lives in Yavne. Plays Hold’em for 6 years. Graduated at the Israeli poker academy. Happy to be a part of team Israel and promoting the game in Israel.