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IFMP Nation’s Cup: Team Ukraine Dethrones Team Ireland to Become Match Poker World Champions, Team India Finishes 5th

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  • Namita Ghosh March 26, 2019
  • 3 minutes Read

In many ways, the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) Nation’s Cup has become the cornerstone of ‘sportified’ poker. With a unique format called Match Poker where teams compete for points rather than money, this annual event has become one of the most awaited and acknowledged events in international poker. And for the fast-growing pool of poker talent in India, the IFMP has been the backbone for the popular poker league – the Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) aka Match IPL.

So when the fourth IFMP Nations Cup visited Boyne Hill House in Meath near Dublin – a place that belongs to the captain of Team Ireland, Fintan Gavin, on March 22, all eyes were on the tournament.

Winning the rights to represent Team India at the event were the champions (Team Pune Kings) from the third season of Match IPL that was held in October last year. Captained by Gaurav Gala, Team Pune Kings had stalwarts like Tanmay Bagga, first lady of Indian poker – Shuchi Chamaria, Tanay Hargunaney and online talents Akshay Nasa and Rishab Jain on its roster. Two members of the team, Akash Shekhar and Rubin Labroo were unable to attend the tournament.

Team India
Team India

Sadly for Team India, their run in the IFMP Nation’s Cup ended in fifth place for the second consecutive time. Day 1 saw the Team India run into poor luck right at the beginning, but the team made an energetic attempt to play their way up. The team dominated the fourth session, cruising to the top with 227 points; however, they got pushed down the rankings later and just about managed a total of 1,695 points by the time the tournament got over.

Team India

“Amazing experience. Thrilled and humbled to lead Team India to the Nations Cup!” said the Indian team captain Gaurav Gala after the event. ”Special mention to Varun Goenka for making the trip really comfortable for us and going out of the way to arrange for veg food for some teammates and myself,” he added.

On Team India’s run in the Nation`s Cup, Gala said, “It’s a team game, and thus everyone’s performance matters a lot. We had a pretty bad session to start with but caught up really well later on. The penultimate session, which is generally the most crucial of em all, didn’t go as well for us and thus we couldn’t scale up for a podium finish. But we will definitely come back strong and won’t be surprised if team India wins it next year.”

We quizzed him on the team`s strategy and if he would change anything on hindsight and Gala said, “I wouldn’t change too much with the team strategy as it is pretty well defined and I have a defined set of roles for each player with respect to the strengths. Overall, MatchPoker is a great sport and is here to stay. It’s only going to get bigger and better. Patrick Nelly and team are doing a wonderful job, keep it up!”

Gaurav Gala
Gaurav Gala

Team member and first lady of Indian poker, Shuchi Chamaria also recalled her experience at the IFMP Nation’s Cup. “It was amazing. Team India had a great time. The organizing was impeccable. Team India was the best team on paper. We were the only ones who had played a league in our country and won it to reach the tournament. The first few sessions did not go well for us and after that, the next few sessions were gone trying to recover.”

Shuchi Chamaria
Shuchi Chamaria

A marathon 500 hands were played across eight sessions over a course of two days between the six international teams. The first six sessions comprised of 60 hands each, and 70 hands were played in each of the final two sessions.

Rising to the top were debutants Team Ukraine who edged past the defending champions Ireland to win the Nation`s Cup. Team Ukraine scored a total of 1,837 points while Team Ireland finished runner-up with 1,784 points. Olga Iermolcheva from Team Ukraine won the ‘Player of the Tournament’ honor. Tanmay Bagga from Team India finished third in the individual player rankings.

Olga Iermolcheva
Olga Iermolcheva


IFMP Nation’s Cup – The Format

The entire competition was played on an app. All players started each hand with an equal amount of chips and received their cards through a mobile device on which the game was played. The same cards were dealt on all tables. Once a hand was completed, each team’s combined chip stacks were reset, and the next hand began. The entire session was recorded electronically, allowing for real-time automated scoring, animated replays and detailed analysis of the gameplay.

The Winner & The Runner Up

At the opening ceremony of the 2019 IFMP Nation’s Cup that began on March 22, captain of the defending team, Team Ireland Fintan Gavin had said, “Nothing matches the drama and buzz of tournament poker. Couple that with playing as a team and representing your country and hands down the Nations Cup offers an incomparable experience, I simply cannot wait.” Gavin was accompanied in the team by Tomas Geleziunas, Karen Muir and Patrick Clarke.

Winning Team Ukraine was captained by Mykhailo Kedrovskyi and comprised of Andriy Lyubovetskiy, Volodymyr Drokin, Timur Azizov, Olga Iermolcheva, Andrii Momot, and Roman Golovko.

Team Ukraine
Team Ukraine


Day 1 Recap

A total of three sessions, each of 60 hands were played out on Day 1. Team Germany took an early lead by the end of the first session with a score of 232.5 points, while Team India could only muster 179 points, and was ranked sixth.

The second session saw another debutant team, Chinese Taipei surge to the top with 219 points while Team Ukraine was a close second with 218 points. Team India fared considerably better and was ranked third.

The tables turned for most teams in the third session where Team Ukraine returned to the top with 233.5 points, and Team India was pushed down to fifth place with 192 points.

By the time the third session got over, a total of 180 hands had been played, and Team Ukraine was in pole position with 667 points, followed by Team Digital that held 648.5 points. Team India was hovering at the bottom, with 589 points.


End of Day 1 Rankings

RankingTeamPoints Accrued (After 180 Hands)
1stUkraine667 Points
2ndDigital 648.5 Points
3rdIreland628 Points
4thChinese Taipei625 Points
5thGermany622.5 Points
6thIndia589 Points


Day 2 Recap

The six teams returned to the action on Day 2, and Team India made a determined bid to improve their points tally. The team won the fourth session, with a total of 227 points that dominated second-ranked Team Ireland’s 210.5 points.

Team Germany gave an impressive performance in the fifth and sixth sessions, putting immense pressure on Team Ukraine that continued to maintain its lead in the overall leaderboard.

Through sessions five and six, Team India kept steady at fourth place. By then a total of 360 hands had played out, and Team Ukraine continued to lead with 1,307 points, with Team India at fourth place with 1,235.5 points.

It was the seventh session that turned out to be Team India`s undoing as we stumbled down the rankings once again, closing the session in sixth place with 200 points, while Team Ireland topped with 261.5 points.

The final session saw Team India make an ambitious push to improve their rankings. The team collected 259.5 points and was placed second behind Team Ukraine that added 278 points to their tally.


End of Day 2 Rankings

RankingTeamsPoints Accrued (500 Hands)
1stUkraine1837 Points
2ndIreland1784 Points
3rdGermany1780 Points
4thDigital1720 Points
5thIndia1695 Points
6thChinese Taipei1683 Points


Notably, this was the second year in a row that Team India represented the country at the IFMP Nation’s Cup. In 2017, Harman Baweja’s Mumbai All Stars had won the inaugural season of Match IPL. The team along with the Player of the League –Aditya ‘bitti’ Agarwal had represented Team India at the IFMP Nations’ Cup 2017 where the Indian team had finished 5th.

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