If you’ve read our article on The Newly Uncovered TRUE History of Match Poker, you’ll know that the sport of Match Poker originated as ‘Duplicate Poker’ and was explained by Bruce Altshuler and Dan Kleinman in Card Player Magazine in 1993.
Read the transcription of this article on our website.

As part of retracing our beloved sport’s roots, and better getting to know its identity and history, we wanted to look closely at this article and see how Match Poker has evolved from Duplicate Poker to the sport of Match Poker, and then to its exciting new incarnation as a mobile app, Match Poker Online™.
To be the first to try our new app, make sure to register here.

The concept of ‘Duplicate Poker’ – the first incarnation of Match Poker

Right from the outset, Altshuler and Kleinman wanted to create a way of playing poker where luck did not play such a large role. This is the foundation of Match Poker. Their idea with “duplicate poker” – coming from the design of duplicate bridge – was:

“Although players compete against players at their table, their real opponents during each round are the players sitting in the same seat at each of the other tables.”

“…it is possible to have a long string of “bad” cards or bad beats and triumph by limiting your losses on such hands. Conversely, if you have an abundance of great cards – but do not win enough chips on those hands compared to the other players – your score will not be good even if you win more chips than you lose.”

They had even determined the logistics and equipment needed to play it in a live setting:
“Instead of discarding their hands after a fold, or at the completion of a hand, the players merely return their cards to the slot on the duplicate board. After the hands have been played, the boards are passed to the next table.”

Their focus on ‘points’ in this game, instead of ‘chips’, perfectly aligns with both the scoring system used by the IFMP in live events AND the Rating algorithm used in Match Poker Online:
“…the scorekeeper determines the average or par for each seat during the round… For example, if the par result at seat No. 6 was minus $150, and you managed to hold your losses to an impressive minus $70, then your score for that round will be plus 80 points (you scored 80 points above par for your seat).”

Our app, Match Poker Online, applies a similar logic when calculating changes in players’ Ratings; playing a hand better than average (for your rank) is the only way you can expect to win tournaments (or hands of quick play) and therefore improve your IFMP Rating.
Learn more about the World-First Rating System that Match Poker Online uses.

Opposition to the concept

Altshuler and Kleinman’s detailed article was a response to an earlier letter in Card Player Magazine, entitled “Reader Says ‘No’ to Duplicate Poker”. Its writer, who calls himself ‘Andrew Anonymous’ declares that he has “not the slightest interest in any form of “duplicate” poker that puts a premium on skill”, because:

“With meager skill, I have managed to turn a small profit joining only games in which I show a decided advantage over players of talents yet more meager than mine.”

So, right from the outset, he acknowledges that poker played in this way would be a much better judge of skill than in regular poker – which is precisely why he doesn’t like it. He wants to keep picking off players with less skill, which is entirely reasonable for a person looking to turn a profit.

But his letter does convey an interesting point; that for those who lack skill in poker, a duplicate poker game like Match Poker would be harder to win. At Match Poker Online, we see this as a necessary corollary of any true sport – that the more skilled will usually win.

But another issue arises from Andrew’s letter. Will those poker players who know themselves to be luckier than they are skilful be interested in a game that substantially reduces the influence of luck?

In Match Poker Online, we offer a solution. In our app there will be a strong focus on players being able to access the data we collect in order to learn how to improve their play. Through a hand-replayer that compares your actions with the pros, to puzzles, to breakdowns of famous poker hands, our app will become the best place for learning how to improve your poker play by looking at the actual hands you have just played. The skills you learn in Match Poker Online will help you in either a Match Poker setting or a traditional one!
Learn more about Match Poker Online’s unique learning tools

This way, every poker player can learn how to win.

And, in Match Poker Online, you can taste success from the outset, because in most of our tournaments and in Rated Play, you will usually be playing against players of a similar skill level to you. There, you can learn to excel!

That’s probably why Andrew Anonymous conceded: “I suppose, however, that inevitably, “duplicate poker” will catch on… Perhaps this will be for the best after all. With the experts withdrawn to the new, more skillful form of the game, ordinary poker players who primarily rely on “luck” may enjoy softer competition.”

It seems that even those who dislike the idea of playing in events of skill see the benefit that a game like this would have on traditional poker, not to mention the poker community as a whole.

As a team sport? Yes, they covered that too!

In Altshuler and Kleinman’s 1993 article, their description of how the sport works in a team setting follows the exact same premise that IFMP plays at their live, international events:

“Duplicate hold’em also can be played as a team event with teams of four to nine players. Each teammate would participate in a different seat at each table with the winner being the team that finishes with the most points.” Indeed, having teams of six (so far) is exactly how the IFMP run their events.

Altshuler and Kleinman, in this article, also outline how to score a game like this: “After a certain number of rounds, the field is cut to a final round. In the final round, everyone stays in until the end of the event. The winner will not be known until the final scores are tallied.” The IFMP also apply this approach in their events, which has the added benefit of ensuring inclusion and team cohesion – nobody goes home before the final hand is played.
Click here to learn more about the IFMP and their live Match Poker events over the past decade

But oh, how far technology has come…

The real treat in reading the Altshuler and Kleinman article is to see how they struggle with some of the issues where, today, technology offers radically better solutions. In 1993 there were no smartphones and the World Wide Web was barely three years old!

For the last seven years, the IFMP has run its competitions without physical cards. Players sit at a table (or can even be in lounge chairs) and receive their cards on a smartphone or tablet device. Sometimes they play with real chips but sometimes these too are digital.

It goes without saying that, in Match Poker Online, the entire game is virtual – played on a smartphone in the palm of your hand.

This opens up a world of possibilities that couldn’t even be considered in 1993. Altshuler and Kleinman describe a tournament played between 24 players. In the Match Poker Online app, our servers will be able to host thousands of players participating at once. This will form the premise of our ‘Main Event’, a tournament that progressively culls 20% of the field, each day, over a number of different ‘days’ to eventually land a handful of players at the final table.

Because a duplicate poker (i.e. Match Poker) competition will, as the writers put it, “place a premium on skill”, any player who wins our Main Event will have proven themselves worthy to compete for a spot in their country’s national team. In these final trials for a place in their country’s national team, they will be joined by the players with the highest Ratings. There is even the possibility that this could be an Olympic team – read about this unbelievable prospect here.

Duplicate Poker has come a long way since 1993. First conceived with aluminium ‘boards’, Match Poker is now about to blast into the future in its newest incarnation, a mobile app: Match Poker Online. We look back at our beloved sport’s roots and are humbled at the journey it has taken from a simple conception to a world-recognised sport.

Fittingly, Altshuler and Kleinman end their article like this: “With duplicate events, poker tournaments will never be the same.” We at Match Poker Online couldn’t agree more!

If our app sounds like something you want to be a part of, you can get early access by registering here!