For more than 200 years, the game of poker has been associated with smoke-filled card rooms full of larger-than-life characters and tall tales of fortunes won and lost.
It was a world open to very few until 2003, when an accountant from Tennessee with the unlikely name of Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event. His victory transformed poker into a multimillion-dollar global industry, played by millions of people daily, both live and online.
Like major sporting events, premier poker tournaments suddenly became marketed, sponsored, televised, and streamed online to viewers around the globe.
However, despite all the fame, fortune, and glory that comes with modern poker, the game still carries much of its clandestine baggage. That’s made it difficult to legitimise poker and bring the game more to the mainstream.
But one form of poker is set to change all that.
How is Poker Played?
Those unfamiliar with poker perceive it as a game of chance, similar to casino games such as roulette, craps, or slot machines. Many believe luck solely determines results.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In poker, players rely not only on the knowledge of how the game is played, but also use psychological and mathematical prowess to directly influence the outcome.
The great game theorist John von Neumann viewed poker as the perfect model for human decision making, for finding the balance between skill and chance that accompanies every choice.
Von Neumann saw poker as the ultimate strategic challenge, combining not just the mathematical elements of a game like chess but the uniquely human, psychological angles that are more difficult to precisely model.
In a normal poker hand, the random turn of a card can significantly affect the result. However, savvy players and deep thinkers find ways to build on the skill inherent in the game.
This is where Match Poker comes in.
Redefining how Poker is Played
Match Poker is a variant of the world’s most popular poker game, No Limit Texas Hold’em. The app allows users to play the same two starting cards from the same position as thousands of other players. Those same players will also see the same five community cards on the flop, turn, and river.
It’s classic Hold’em with a twist. Seeing so many outcomes for the same hands allows Match Poker to offer deep analysis, data, and comparisons among all players using the app.
Match Poker’s scoring system ranks you against all players who played those exact cards, as well as players competing against those exact cards. Your play is judged not on how much you won or lost, but on how your play compares with that of every other player who played the same cards.
This innovation opens the door to some extraordinary possibilities including:
- objectively determining who are the world’s best players
- the ability for players to assess their own play and make improvements
- setting up local, national, and international teams to play each other in mind sport leagues – perhaps even the Olympics
This concept first came about more than 10 years ago in the form of Duplicate Poker. Harvard University Law School Professor Charles Nesson and his students enthusiastically embraced the idea.
Through his poker reading group and Harvard Poker Thinking Society, Nesson used the game to teach skills relevant to both poker and a legal career. Some of those include:
- strategic thinking
- key decision making
- assessing risk based on limited information
- showing strength from a position of weakness
“I believe it’s time for [poker] to shake loose from the awful reputation it built up through its genesis as a gambling game. It has had an equally distinguished history as an academic pursuit … strategic thinking, taking risks based on limited information, empathizing with an opponent, and even showing strength from a position of weakness – are all skills vital for playing poker – and practising law.”
– Professor Charles Nesson, Harvard University
Becoming a World Sport
From Professor Nesson’s vision for the future of poker, the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) was born. A non-profit organisation, the IFMP serves as the global governing body for Match Poker. The organisation has run live international championships since 2011 with the first event hosted on the London Eye, the world-famous observation wheel on the southern bank of the River Thames.
Inside one of the London Eye’s capsules during the first ever Match Poker competition (credit MatchPoker.sport)
In May, the 2020 Nations Cup became the first IFMP championships to be hosted remotely and online because of the Coronavirus pandemic restricting international travel.
Competitors played six sessions of 50 hands with 12 teams participating: Germany, Spain, India, South Korea, Ukraine, Lithuania, Singapore, Belarus, Poland, Australia, Taiwan, and Ireland.
After an intense two days of play, Team Ukraine retained the championship trophy with Australia coming second and Lithuania, India, and Taiwan coming in third, fourth, and fifth respectively.
A More Global Game
In 2017, Match Poker was officially recognised as a sport by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the governing body of world sport. Match Poker was granted “Observer Status”, making its legitimacy as a sport equal to that of Rugby.
“This is an exciting time for [Match Poker and the other Observers]… we will do everything within our remit to help them realise their full potential as International Federations within the global sport’s family and, one day, maybe become part of the Olympic program.”
– Patrick Baumann, GAISF President
For nine years, Match Poker has been officially recognised as a world mind sport, alongside games such as chess and bridge.
One key aspect differentiates mind sports from traditional athletic competitions – the ability to play over the Internet. Players can thus quickly develop and maintain global fellowship and support for the game. Online games and tournaments also provide opportunities for players of all levels to compete on a regular basis.
The IFMP now endorses the new Match Poker Online™ mobile app to bring the sport of poker into the spotlight and onto your device.
Using the exact same principles as a live Match Poker tournament, any player can log into the Match Poker app, play a series of hands, and get ranked on how they played those hands. The app compares a competitors’ play to everyone else playing those hands before them.
After playing enough hands, the app’s sophisticated algorithm tells players where they rank among others around the entire world.
Best of all, it’s free to download and play*.
Match Poker Online forges a pathway for players to become part of national, international, and perhaps even one day Olympic teams of professional Match Poker mind athletes.
Match Poker also becomes vital in a player’s education and training in mastering the game in all forms. Players receive feedback and coaching in real time through the use of the app’s special features such as:
- Learning tools and puzzles, which help grasp the fundamentals of poker and an insight into implementing strategy.
- The Lab, where players can not only review the action of the hand just played, but also shows them how they can improve their play. Players also learn what the best and worst players in the world did at each moment in the hand.
- Famous Hands, allowing users to replay iconic hands from key moments in poker history. See how your play and results compare to the pros.
Getting Ready for Launch
Naturally, Match Poker Online also caters to those simply looking to play a private “home game” with friends or jump into a sit & go (SNG) or multi-table tournament (MTT).
As of now, the Alpha testing phase is complete and an open Beta is being tested right now. Expect a public release in the next month.
To be notified when the Beta goes live and receive updates on the app’s progress, sign up here.
You can also visit the Match Poker website or social media accounts.