Introducing Match Poker



Match Poker was devised by the International Federation of Poker to reduce the element of luck inherent in traditional forms of poker, ensuring that it is a contest based on players’ skill and conforms to the accepted definition of a sport.

While all sports contain an element of chance, most notably the unpredictable bounce of a ball, the definition used by SportAccord – the organisation of International Sports Federations – is that chance should not be integrated into the very core of the sport.

However in traditional poker the element of chance inherent in the random dealing of cards is deliberate.  It is the essence of the game and what has helped poker become a global phenomenon.

Match Poker was conceived as part of the IFP’s campaign to gain recognition of poker as a ‘mind sport’ by demonstrating to governments and sporting authorities around the world a new sporting format where it could fairly be said that reliance upon luck was removed.

The response to the new format has been overwhelmingly positive. Because authorities have accepted Match Poker as “non-gambling”, events are no longer restricted to gaming-licensed casino environments and can be staged in any venue.  The first IFP Nations Cup was held on the world-famous London Eye.

Today the 50+ member nations of the IFP use the format for all of their international team competitions.


Match Poker Infographic (click to view)

So what exactly is Match Poker?

Match Poker is a team sport incorporating regular Texas Hold’em (albeit typically with a pot-limit pre-flop and no-limit post-flop structure).

Teams are split onto different tables with one player from each team in each of the different seat positions.

All players start each hand with an equal number of chips and receive their cards on a digital device.

The same cards are dealt at all tables (hole cards and community cards). This means that every player in seat 1 (each from a different team) has identical cards. The same is true in every other seat.

This allows the best players and the best teams to be identified. Each team’s combined chips are compared after every hand and points allocated accordingly. Players reset their stacks and the next hand begins.

After a pre-determined number of hands the team with the most points wins. All action is recorded electronically enabling real-time automated scoring, animated replay and detailed analysis.

The five key differences to regular poker are:

  • Match Poker is played by teams
  • The random dealing of cards has been removed
  • Card information is delivered electronically
  • Scores are calculated on a per hand basis
  • A full record of play is maintained

Why is IFP’s Match Poker a breakthrough?

  • By devising a team format and scoring systems that aggregates individual results and compares team chip scores on a per hand basis, IFP Match Poker succeeds in reducing chance and provides a new way of assessing pure poker skill.
  • IFP Match Poker conforms to the Sportaccord definition of a sport as ‘not relying on any element of luck specifically integrated into the sport.’
  • IFP Match Poker has maximised the use of technology to enhance the sport experience for players, spectators and the TV audience.
  • Match Poker technology produces a level of analysis not previously possible in poker.
  • IFP has been the first to duplicate cards electronically at live events – physical playing cards are replaced by smartphone images. Early technology has been refined to create the complete Match Poker System which includes tools to track every single poker action made during a tournament, replay an animated version of play at every table, automate scoring, and generate a wealth of statistics.
  • The IFP has also developed a compelling TV format for Match Poker that deliberately schedules its feature table to begin once all of the outer tables have concluded play. This way, with teammates watching alongside the audience, live sporting drama can be achieved and the statistics and analysis utilised to the maximum.