The International Federation of Match Poker was founded in 2009 to promote poker and the IFMP’s proprietary version of duplicate poker called “Match Poker.” Last week, the IFMP released Match Poker Online an app that makes Match Poker available to the general public.
Match Poker works similarly to duplicate bridge where players at different tables are dealt the exact same hand and their performance measured against the players in the same position on all the other tables. In bridge, players are measured on their relative point scores. In poker, chip stacks do the talking.
The IFMP’s usual competition involves each nation putting up a team of six players. Each teammate is seated at a different seat number on different tables.
Each table is then dealt the exact same hole cards, flop, turn, and river. At the end of the hand, players are assigned points based on their chip stacks relative to the players in the same seat number at the other tables. Chips are then reset to starting stack after each hand to keep things as close to identical from table to table. Then the next hand is dealt.
The overall performance of the team is compared at the end of a set number of hands and prizes are awarded accordingly. In the MPO app, the setup is a little different in order to accommodate single players instead of teams.
How MPO works
On MPO, the basic unit of competition is the Battle Royale tournament.
In these Battle Royale tourneys, you are seated as one of 36 players seated at six 6-handed tables. You play 32 hands of poker against your table. However, your real competition is against the five other players who are sitting in the same seat as you on the other tables.
You play your hand as best you can and your performance is compared to the players on the other tables.
For example, if you and I are sitting in seat 3 on our respective tables we will both receive the same hole cards (say pocket aces). We play the hand against our table, but the real competition is between you, me, and the other players in seat 3.
If you get away from your aces on the flop and lose 20 big blinds, you can still win the round if I move all in, get called and drawn out on, and lose 100 big blinds in the process. Despite losing chips, your score against me is +80 big blinds.
This difference is fed into an algorithm with every other player to have played the same spot as us two to determine our ratings for that hand. This allows players to compare performance on a scale wider than just the single Battle Royale tournament they take part in.
Every few hands, the lowest scoring player in each seat is busted and the tables rebalanced. This process continues until there is just one table left.
Each person at that table is the best performing player in their seat. They are all winners of the tourney, coming first out of six.
What is the point?
At the moment, there is no option to play match poker for cash. If there were, it probably wouldn’t appeal very widely. A large part of what keeps fish coming back to regular poker is the high luck element in the short run. On any given Sunday, any bream can win.
However, for anyone who plays poker purely for the competition, MPO is an interesting alternative. The software is slick and intuitive.
There is probably also some utility here as an assessment tool. The reduced luck factor adds some objectivity to one’s appraisal of one’s own skill. Plus, the lab options provide some basic insights that should be interesting to anyone who is just getting to grips with HUDs and hand histories.
MPO’s biggest contribution to poker, though, will most likely as proof of concept for duplicate poker as a sport.
The IFMP website stresses that “IFMP Match Poker conforms to the Sportaccord definition of a sport as ‘not relying on any element of luck specifically integrated into the sport.’” One of the IFMP’s goals is to get Match Poker recognized as an Olympic sport. This alone should be good for the game.
Additionally, getting poker classified more widely as a sport is one way to persuade lawmakers to legalize poker and attract new players. In that regard, there’s a bit more hinging on MPO than just your IMFP rating.
Players can download the Match Poker Online app and set up an account to play for free.
Featured image source: Screencap from Match Poker Online app