HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM POKER AS A MIND SPORT

Poker can prove an invaluable learning tool was the sentiment raised in an article in the Wall Street Journal this week, which detailed the experience of a Lower East Side high school in Manhattan which stages a weekly poker tournament, one that has since impressed both education staff and poker advocates across the country.

As the article by Sophia Hollander reports, the Henry Street School for International Studies holds a weekly poker club for students, held in the office of the school guidance counsellor. The rules are simple: No cursing. No money exchanged. No innuendo.The club was founded in 2007 by Maurice Engler, a former guidance counsellor. Engler intended the club to reach out to children using math and psychology and create a network of teams, not unlike those that exist for chess.

So far the Henry Street team’s ten members are the only sanctioned high school poker club in New York, but they have become a team of skilled players.

In 2008 the team travelled to Harvard to compete against (and beat) the Law School. In 2011 they were invited to play the Oxford Cup in the United Kingdom, but were unable to raise funds in time.

One poker advocate who found inspiration from the school is Amy Handelsman, Executive Director of the United States Poker Federation as well as the US Mind Sport Association, whose aim is to steer connotations of poker away from stereotypical connotations, towards its’ more accurate Mind Sport status.

“Poker has been lumped in with some nefarious behaviour because of the way it’s been played,” said Handelsman, speaking to the WSJ.

“But if you take money out of it and look at it on a skill level, what makes somebody a good poker player we think can translate to other areas of cognitive learning.”

The school’s principle Eric McMahon was won over by the effects the weekly games were having on her pupils, and was not the only one to find encouragement from the club.

Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, whose team was on the losing end of the match against Henry Street High School, and who is planning to teach a class that combined poker training with case law, was also full of praise.

“Poker’s all about who your adversary is and how much of your credibility you risk,” said Nesson, who gave the keynote speech at the 2011 International Federation of Poker Congress. “The metaphors of poker are vibrant in the context of legal adversarial action.”

Read the full article on the Wall Street Journal website.

IFP CELEBRATES ITS THIRD YEAR ANNIVERSARY

With the work of IFP gaining momentum in leaps and bounds, with new initiatives and progress being made almost on a daily basis, it’s sometimes easy to miss the landmarks worth celebrating, like that of yesterday, when the International Federation of Poker celebrated its third year anniversary, following its formation in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2009.

_MG_9762From 12 original members, IFP is now an organisation of more than 40 national federations, led by President Anthony Holden who has been instrumental in IFPs formation, as well as in creating the first IFP World Championships, played in London in 2011.So much has been achieved already but it’s what we have to look forward to that excites us most.In the coming months they’ll be a new look website. Not only that but soon you will be able to sign up for IFP membership and take advantage of a broad range of benefits aimed at dramatically enhancing your poker playing experience. Most significantly, IFP membership will allow you the chance to qualify for events, such as the 2012 The Table and the Nations Cup, played using Duplicate Poker.

Those familiar with IFPs work will know that duplicate poker, a form of the game in which players at different tables each receive the same cards, is a poker variant that dramatically reduces the element of variance in poker, leaving room for more skill.

IFP is collaborating with the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta, looking into variants of duplicate poker and exploring the notion of Duplicate Poker Ratings, something which could give members a true measure of a player’s poker skill.

In addition IFP membership will include a ranking system that will use a unique formula that will enable you to compare your progress alongside everyone family and friends, as well as other members across the world.

The IFP is also developing ideas to host duplicate poker online, incorporating the use of Artificial Intelligence, and is in the process of building state-of-the-art poker training tools for all IFP members to enjoy.

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone who sent messages this weekend supporting the work of the IFP, which were gratefully received. IFPs online community grows day by day. We hope you’ll agree that after three great years there is much more to come and we look forward to having you on board as we reach our fourth birthday.

AMARILLO SLIM PRESTON DIES AGED 83

News spread across the poker world at the weekend that “Amarillo Slim” Preston had died after a long illness, at the age of 83.

Born Thomas Austin Preston Jr, “Amarillo Slim” was one of the early pioneers of the game, long before the internet turned the game into a mainstream activity.Excelling in cash games across the United States, Preston, who was rarely seen without his Stetson and ostrich skin boots, won the World Series of Poker in 1972 and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992, two years after winning his fourth bracelet.

Preston had been unwell for some time and lately had been in a hospice. The Preston’s family released a statement yesterday that was posted on the World Series of Poker website.

“We hope everyone will remember our beloved Amarillo Slim for all the positive things he did for poker and to popularize his favourite game, Texas Hold’em,” the family said.

As the Las Vegas Review Journal reported, Preston had faced a rocky last few years.

“In August 2003, a Texas grand jury indicted Preston on multiple counts of indecency with a child. The felony charges were later dropped, but Preston eventually agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanour assault charges to protect his family, he claimed, and avoid the embarrassment of a public trial.”

Years later Preston told author Nolan Dalla that the charges had split the family, but that they had since been re-united.

“Yes, that was right at one time,” Preston told Dalla. “But that’s not true anymore. All of them have since written letters about these charges saying it was a big mistake and the sexual abuse never happened.”

Dalla himself commented:

“While other less deserving poker players got rich and famous in recent years, Slim missed the poker boom entirely.”

Read the full article on the Las Vegas Review Journal website.

POKER DOCUMENTARY TO FRAME GAME’S RECENT HISTORY

The poker world is buzzing over the release of a new documentary examining the story of poker’s “boom” during the early years of the 21st century.

ALL-IN – THE POKER MOVIE recounts poker’s journey to the game we now know it to be; from an activity cloaked in stereotype – of back rooms, cigars and crooks – to the global poker revolution, a game now played in casinos, online, in people’s homes for anything from pennies to millions of dollars.Tracking poker’s evolution through the underground clubs of New York City, through to the events of Black Friday, using the US as a model the film explains the complexities of its legal status, and how poker has become a target for politicians who are denying millions of people the right to play the game they love.Starring the likes of actor Matt Damon and poker players Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu, the film also features IFP president Anthony Holden as well as contributions from authors Peter Alson and James McManus, both of whom have been integral to the work of both the IFP and the US Poker Federation in the past year.

For those of you that haven’t seen the trailer yet here it is:

The film is set to be released across the US from Friday 23 March 2012 with more details, including how to pre-order the film, available on the ALL IN – THE POKER MOVIE website.

DPSB NATIONAL HEADS-UP TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP IN HANNOVER

In a glimpse of what organised national poker looks like the German Poker Federation (the DPSB) staged its fourth National Heads-Up Team Championship in Hannover last weekend, bringing together qualifying teams from across the country to compete head to head for title of German champion.

Riverkings_Hof_winner_team (2)Poker in Germany has surged in the past decade, with Stud giving way to hold’em, and the internet bringing poker to millions of players. Last November Pious Heinz became the first German player to win the World Series of Poker and Team Germany took down the inaugural IFP Nations Cup in London. Events like the Heads-Up National Championship introduce more players to the international fold.Heads up poker is one of the toughest poker disciplines, with literally nowhere for a player to hide. Every hand pits you against your opponent; you can’t rely on another player at your table to do the hard work. It means the best heads-up players are focused, patient and ruthlessly aggressive.

This is doubly important in a team context, which adds another layer of potential complication; where each decision is taken in full view of your team mates, whose result depends on your actions as much as theirs. As witnessed at last year’s Nations Cup, it adds a new and complicated dimension to the game that is not easy to master.

Organised by the AllIn Hannover poker club, the competition featured 12 teams for four competing over two days. Four heads-up matches were played simultaneously between teams, for three rounds, with increased points for each win. If there’s no team winner after three heads-up rounds a decider is played, with a team requiring 41 points to win.

The tense round robin group stages were not for the faint of heart, starting at 10am (not usually an hour suited to poker players), playing through to the 3am finish (that’s more like it). The four group winners then progressed to the semi-finals on Sunday.

The standout team in the group stages was Riverkings Hof, winning both of their group matches to advance to the semi-finals, where they beat THC Mönchengladbach by a score of 58 to 23. In the other tie 89 suited München defeated Entertainment Poker Hürth, 42 points to 20.

It made for an all-Bavaria final, with both teams having competing in each of the three prior national finals. But showing the same form in the later stages as they had in their group there could only be one winner; Riverkings Hof, from a town of only 50,000 inhabitants, clear winners, 54 points to 27. In the third place playoff THC Mönchengladbach got the better of Entertainment Poker Hürth, 41 points to 21.

Congratulations to Riverkings Hof on a great victory. Here at IFP we are already looking forward to next year.