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.

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.

The rules of poker have never been non-negotiable. There are no tablets of stone etched with detailed rules for each eventuality. Hold’em has always been a case of two cards faced down and take it from there, but when it comes to everything else, the unpredictable whims of fortune have always been at the heart of what makes the game so interesting.

CB0K7007 (3)But should there be a more definitive guide, easing out the idea that, in some circumstances, the rules are up for debate? Is that even possible?

Take these examples.

In April 2010 the European Poker Tour main event in Berlin was rudely interrupted by masked men intent on taking with them the tournament’s prize money. The men, carrying a variety of persuasive implements, were able to grab some cash from startled tournament staff before fleeing.

All were quickly caught by German authorities, their planning not taking into account at least one member of the poker media recording events on a camera.

As this took place in the lobby of the tournament room was a scene of pandemonium as players looked for a convenient exit through various routes, one of which involved moving past the three remaining tables of the main event. In the rush chip stacks being knocked over, mixing with those on either side.

When things eventually returned to normal it seemed an impossible task to restart where players had left off.

Step forward tournament director Thomas Kremser charged with finding order amidst the mess.

Using a combination of footage from a security camera as well as that from the television production company the stacks were pieced back together. Anything else was at the discretion of Kremser, who used this, and the testimony of the players, to reassemble the tournament. Anything else he used personal judgement to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Examples like this may be rare but they’re not altogether unusual. Ask any tournament director and they will have a story of something almost unbelievable taking place. Each occasion depends on what the tournament director believes to be the best course of action, not an officially sanctioned decree in a book.

One such incident was recently highlighted on the Hendon Mob website. An edition of their “Ask the TD” series posed a question relating to a player carrying chips in their pocket, which is in breach of the rules. Yet even this “rule” was open to interpretation.

Click through the link and read yourself. You’ll find several tournament directors give individual answers, with most a personal take on the situation, dependant on numerous factors beyond the details in front of them – not unlike a poker hand which cannot be decided on mere hand detail; position, the type of player, the type of game and so on, must be factored in to obtain a reasonable answer.

The question remains, however, should there even be a definitive guide, a cast iron rule book that lays out the procedure for every eventuality, independent of any personal opinion or preference?

The IFP has taken the next step in outlining the rules of the game with the release of the Official Rules of Poker coming later this year. But there remains a large grey area, and the question remains, should there be?

We say maybe. Join the debate on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Readers of the Forbes magazine website were asked an intriguing question in the business section last week. Was it better to spend $100,000 on a business degree or $3 on a deck of playing cards with which to play poker?

Forbes VideoQuite an either-or you might think but President of the United States Poker Federation (USPF) Peter Alson was quick to suggest that the $3 investment wasn’t such a bad idea after all, arguing that poker serves as a remarkable educational tool, particularly for those in business.“Poker, like business, is a game where you quite often are making decisions based on incomplete information so that you know some of the factors involved but not all of them,” Alson told Forbes.The USPF, along with the International Federation of Poker, are working to reposition the game as a mainstream sport, demonstrating that poker, like chess or bridge, has intellectual and cognitive benefits for those who master it, not least in a business sense.

“It’s also a game where you’re making decisions based on risk and reward and there is also the element of reading your adversaries to know where they’re coming from…(and) sometimes you have to cut your losses and those decisions will determine whether you succeed or fail.”

Stating what many poker players already understand, Alson maintained that poker skills such as calculating risk, projecting authority and assessing opponents’ leverage can all be applied to business transactions.

“All the businessmen I know say that they learned more from poker than they did from business school because the game itself plays out like business in terms of how you can read your competitors and assess their relative strengths and weaknesses and take advantage of them,” said Alson. “All of these things Poker teaches in ways that business school can’t.”

Maybe the $3 deck of cards isn’t a bad alternative after all?

Well, the reality may not be quite so simple. But knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em has always been a useful skill in any field.

You can read the full article here.

Shuffle up.