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  • The International Federation of Poker (IFP)

    By Anthony Holden

    On 29 April, at a grand ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland, I enjoyed the distinct honour of being elected the first President of the International Federation of Poker (IFP).

    It’s an abrupt change of career course for me, but a challenge I already find both energising and rewarding. The chance to lead poker’s first governing body, and to work towards poker’s international recognition as a skilled ‘mind-sport’ rather than just another form of gambling, was an offer I couldn’t refuse. The consequences for the game we all love, and so for its players and administrators, are potentially monumental.

    At the Lausanne ceremony, the UK Poker Federation was one of seven founder-member countries to take the long overdue initiative of establishing the global governing body poker has never had – and so urgently needs. It was appropriate that the ceremony took place in a venue symbolizing international sports cooperation; Lausanne is the home of the International Olympic Committee and many other international sports federations.

    Pictures of the event, plus encouraging editorial support from Nic Szeremeta, can be found in Poker Europa’s coverage. http://www.pokereuropaonline.com/pdfs/june/IPF.pdf

    The IFP’s founder members are…

    • Danish Poker Federation (Denmark)
    • Fédération Française des Joueurs de Poker (France)
    • Stichting Nederlandse PokerBond (Holland)
    • Russian Sport Poker Federation (Russia)
    • Ukrainian Poker Federation (Ukraine)
    • UK Poker Federation (UK)
    • Associacao Brazileira de Poker (Brazil)

    Negotiations with 20 other countries are well advanced, and many of them are expected to join the Federation over the coming weeks. We hope to reach a critic mass of 75-100 member-countries during the IFP’s first three or so years.

    Poker has developed beyond all predictable measure over the past decade, and has now become a major international ‘mind-sport’. But the international coordination and representation of the game has not matched the speed of its expansion. There are still conflicting levels of acceptability around the world.

    IFP will be making an international case for poker as a ‘mind-sport’. We have already had encouraging conversations in Paris with the International Mind Sports Association, who organise the Mind Sports Games alongside the Olympics every four years. If we can achieve membership, it will be a huge step towards poker becoming legal everywhere, and eliminating the restraints many countries are imposing on the game.

    The Federation will also draw together all the arguments, evidence and testimony gathered around the world by national federations or their equivalents which have been called upon to contest restrictive laws or punitive taxation.

    IFP will also be working to standardize tournament rules internationally, as well as compiling international rankings alongside each member-nation’s own national rankings. These will be used to determine the teams sent to IFP-approved events, which will include annual world championships – both team and individual. IFP also plans to stage international team poker events along the lines of golf’s Ryder Cup, tennis’s Davis Cup etc.

    Above all, IFP will be working to demonstrate that poker is a ‘mind-sport’ of strategic skill, not a mere game of chance, and so to win it exemption from gambling legislation throughout the world, and place it on a level of respectability and acceptance alongside bridge, chess etc.

    Currently under construction, a state-of-the-art website will soon be launched for IFP. This will provide a forum for international debate on all aspects of poker, as well as the latest poker news from all over the world. Its custom-built TV channel will also offer footage of numerous TV poker events past and present.

    This new site will, I regret, replace Biggerdeal.com – which has, for reasons you will now understand, been dormant these last few months. I apologise for that; but my new full-time job trying to win poker the legal acceptance it deserves around the world – and organising international tournaments to celebrate its newfound respectability – will surely make it all worthwhile.

    Thanks for your company during this site’s two exciting years of existence, and to all who have made it such a fun place to write and play. Before long, anyone looking for BiggerDeal.com will be bounced straight on to the new IFP website – where I and my BiggerDeal comrades, and many more, will still be writing.

    So see you there … where you will receive regular reports on IFP’s efforts to free poker from the cruel and unusual legal constraints it still suffers all over the world. Plus details of the exciting international tournaments we plan to stage.

    And so, one last time – May the flops be with you !

    If you’re interested in the IFP and its work, or want to get involved – especially if you’re from a country which has yet to affiliate – please email the Federation’s executive director, Oliver Chubb, at execdir@intfedpoker.com, copy to me at president@intfedpoker.com

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