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 Italians go with experience in their bid to recreate their 2017 Nations Cup performance!

Introducing Team Italy:

Isidoro Alampi (captain)

Age: 48

General Manager, President of Italian Poker Federation

Founder of Italian Poker Federation in 2006 with his passion for sport, he contributed to the spread of poker as a sport throughout Italy. Member of the Tournament Director Association, he organised the Italian WPT in 2011.

His dream is to see poker officially recognised as a sport in Italy.

 


Antonio Parlavecchio

Age: 46

I have been in the world of poker since 2007 both as a player, participating in national and international events (EPT, WSOP, etc.), and as an organiser.

A sport that immediately fascinated me and allowed me to reap great satisfaction.

 

Massimo Majolino

Age: 53

Always a lover of poker in general I approached sports poker as soon as I got a foothold in Italy in 2006 now after having known and played it I am increasingly convinced that the future of sports poker is only Match Poker.

I have done some good results online in various platforms such as Pokerstars, 888 etc. etc.

Together with my two partners, I manage the dealer staff in the tournaments that take place at Casino Malta.

 

Giuseppe Ruggeri

Age: 46

As soon as I met sports poker I approached only out of curiosity but then curiosity became passion.

Discreet live and online player, I have obtained several good results in various Mini IPT, Pokermaps, Battle of Malta tournaments.

I am a dealer/floorman in the most important European events.

 

Marco Sfameni

Age: 24

Pharmacy student still full time.

In love with discovery and adventures.

I love traveling and learning about new cultures.

Lover of sports poker for a long time (well before I could actually play), a passion that also extends to other card games.

 

Giuseppe Grimaldi

Age: 52

Architect with a passion for sport. He has practiced competitive youth and senior activities, in basketball, soccer and volleyball. About ten years ago, thanks to the FIGP, he met “Texas Hold’em live” and soon became one of the protagonists in the world of associations in his region (Sicily). Professional commitments do not allow him constant participation in international tournaments. Nevertheless, it has achieved excellent results by going to ITM frequently. The #9 place at the “Battle Of Malta 2015” is certainly the most prestigious placement. He was part of the 2017 Nations Cup team which finished runners-up to the Irish.

 

Katia Crisafulli

The beautiful part of the team.

Everyone bets that it will be the surprise of the impenetrable tournament, the poker face of the team.

 

Mario Sfameni

Age: 51

Pharmacist with a passion for Texas Hold’em. Since 2006 he has been attending the Texas Hold’em world first as a live player ($50,000 won in his career) and then as a tournament organiser especially in Malta from 2009 to present.
Vice President of F.I.G.P. since 2013 in the IFMP family ready for the spread of Match Poker on the Italian territory.
He was part of the 2017 Nations Cup team which finished runners-up to the Irish.