The qualification stages for the 2013 European Nations Cup are now less than two weeks away. Montessino, in Vienna, will soon gear up to stage the Match Poker contest that will send ten teams to the finals in London, in March of next year.

As those who have seen it played with gusto with agree, Match Poker is an innovative format of the game, pioneered by IFP, which provides a better examination of the skill involved in poker, diminishing any element of chance.

For the spectator it also provides an enthralling insight into the game that is hard to replicate (duplicate?) outside Match Poker conditions – the opportunity to put various players in an identical situation and determine who played best.

It presents boundless opportunities to examine each scenario, at length. All that’s needed (as we found) is the play-by-play transcript and someone as obsessive as you who will listen. We’re happy to report that the nerd-like joy is practically endless.

It also throws up some pretty fascinating circumstances and, when unleashed on a standard issue poker professional, generates debate almost immediately. Even in the trials prior to the 2011 finals, some players were already talking of how to maximize strategy and, when it came to the finals in London, more than one team employed tactics aimed specifically at gaining an advantage over other teams.

Were they successful? It’s hard to be sure what methods were adopted and by whom. But the German team, who came first, and the Brazilian team, who finished second, both claimed to have used premeditated strategies that led to success. How much the game has evolved since then will become obvious when play starts in Austria.

For more details of the Vienna event check out the IFP website.