Later this week, the International Federation of Poker will put on its inaugural event, the Nations’ Cup, which will take place in London, the United Kingdom, and feature top players from around the world battling in a unique format.
Eleven of the twelve teams that will play in the Nations’ Cup beginning on November 17 have been revealed and the rosters reflect some of the best players in the game. The “wild card” for this tournament, however, will be its format; the tournament will feature duplicate poker – a form of poker where each table is dealt the exact same hands and players receive points for how well they play a particular hand in comparison with those who also have the same hand – which is something that the competitors might have some trouble preparing for. With that said, the team lineups for the tournament are right out of any major worldwide event.
The United States has arguably the most notable roster of the eleven teams that have been named to this point. Led by 2011 Poker Hall of Fame inductee Barry Greenstein, the team also features top online players Isaac Haxton and Jennifer “Jennicide” Leigh, top female pro Vanessa Selbst, World Series of Poker bracelet winners Matt Matros and Antonio Esfandiari and Ali Eslami. Regardless of the format of the game, Team USA has to be considered one of the favorites for the competition.
Two of Team USA’s members have commented regarding their participation in the Nations Cup and the goal of the IFP in changing the way that poker is thought of in certain circles. In an interview at NewJerseyNewsroom.com earlier this month, Selbst commented to writer Jerry Milani, “Poker is 95% skill and 5% luck, and many who are involved on the professional side work hard to improve that skill set. It is what makes good players great in any sport. However the gambling aspect is what people associate most with poker, and that is what these efforts are looking to change. I agree that it is a game of skill and practice and I am pleased to be involved.”
Leigh also likes the idea of the Nations’ Cup, commenting in a BleacherReport.com article, “As much as I have enjoyed playing online and in high stakes events, I think we have a chance to help make the game so much more and to reach a new audience,” she stated. “I think that is what the Nations’ Cup will help start.”
Although the American team is loaded, there is tremendous competition that they will face. The United Kingdom fields a squad consisting of Captain Barny Boatman, 2011 November Niner Sam Holden, poker “Triple Crown” winner Jake Cody, 2009 November Niner James Akenhead, Sam Trickett, JP Kelly and Liv Boeree. Team Ireland is headed by Captain Padraig Parkinson and features the father and son duo of Donnachea and Eoghan O’Dea, “Mad” Marty Smyth, Andy Black, Dermot Blain and Cat O’Neill.
The other nations that will be featured in the Nations’ Cup include Germany (featuring Sandra Naujoks and Sebastian Ruthenberg), France (with Captain Fabrice Soulier, David Benyamine and Nicolas Levi), the Netherlands (captained by Rolf Slotboom and featuring Marcel Luske, Noah Boeken and Rob Hollink), Spain (with Raul Paez, Juan Maceiras and Leo Margets), Australia (with veteran Mel Judah as captain and Antanas “Tony G” Guoga and Women in Poker Hall of Famer Marsha Waggoner), Brazil (stocked with Felipe Ramos, Christian Kruel, Alexandre Gomes and Andre Akkari) and Japan (headed by Gen Watanabe).
Perhaps the most intriguing team in the Nations’ Cup will be representing the “digital nation.” Team Zynga Poker will take to the felt, captained by Jennefer Gallenberger, with some of the competitors experiencing their first ever live tournament performance. Team Zynga Poker will have to learn on the fly as they face some of the stiffest competition in the world, as will the twelfth team that has yet to be named.
The two day Nations’ Cup event will be followed on November 19 by “The Table,” a featured event during the four day festival put in place by the IFP. “The Table” has invited 135 of the top players in the world to battle it out for a $500,000 prize pool, with $250,000 going to the eventual champion. It should serve as a perfect cap to what should be an outstanding event put on by the International Federation of Poker.