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What is Match Poker and Why Should We Care?

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Apr/08/2018

Poker is by far the most popular card game ever played on this planet.

It has many variants with rules that are at least somewhat similar, and millions, if not billions play it at online poker portals, real-life poker clubs, casinos, pubs, kitchens, game rooms, and even through social networks. It is a game that relies as much on the random order of the cards in a deck as on the skill of doing the right thing with the cards dealt - there is an ongoing debate about the true nature of the game. But the International Federation of Poker has been granted an official "Observer" status by the International Mind Sport Association years ago and is now working on turning poker into a bona fide sport. Not the poker we all like and play, as it is a bit too similar to 7Sultans real money online gambling in its reliance of chance, but a new form of the game they call "Match Poker". So, what is it and why should we care about it?

What is "Match Poker"?

Match Poker is a poker variant invented to eliminate as much randomness from the game as possible. It is based on traditional Texas Hold'em with a pot-limit pre-flop and no-limit post-flop structure but with a few changes meant to reduce its random nature to the minimum. For one, Match Poker is a team sport, played by teams of four split into different tables, with one player of each team sitting at a different table at different seat positions. And each seat position at each table receives the same cards, so each player at each table ends up with a different hand than the other players on the same team. Each table is dealt the exact same cards - both the hands and the community cards. This way, it's not up to the random order of the cards that are dealt to decide which player is the best but to the player to do whatever is needed to make the most of it. This way, the game becomes one of almost purely skill. The players play a pre-determined number of hands. Each team's combined number of chips will determine the winner of the hand - the team with the most points won will be declared a winner.

Why is this important?

Because it is an attempt to introduce poker not only among sports in the classic sense of the word (well, a mind sport, really), and it seems to work. So much so, that it has been brought in front of SportAccord (officially the Global Association of International Sports Federations), the umbrella organization of sports federations around the world. While it has failed its application last year (so did the World Armwrestling Federation and the Rugby League International Federation) this doesn't stop it from becoming increasingly popular around the world (and to apply again at a later date). In the meantime, Match Poker - due to its non-gambling nature - is finally leaving "gambling" environments like casinos (the first IFMP Nations Cup was held at the London Eye, for example). It will be a long trip - but the first step has already been made. One day, poker might become an Olympic sport. Not very soon, but one day...

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