All 4 ENC sessions will feature 100 hands of Match Poker play and last approximately three hours. The in-running scoreboard will be shown to players right up until the commencement of the final European Nations Cup session, at which point the final 100 hands will be played “in the dark”. During sessions only spectators will have access to the live stream and animated replay of key hands. Players will only have full access to the tournament replayer after the conclusion of the tournament, although hand logs (including all hole card information) will be freely available between sessions.
Each hand of Match Poker, in isolation, is a hand of No-Limit Texas Hold’em where a player is looking to win the most (or lose the fewest) chips they can. A chip stack of 10,000 (200 big blinds) is set for every player at the start of each hand and the blinds do not increase from 25 and 50 respectively.
The same order of cards is used at all 14 tables, which is dealt electronically to players’ smartphones and the tables’ community devices. The “seat draw” dictates that teammates play on different tables with one specific player from each team sitting in each of the different seat positions, and that all teams are split evenly across the tournament tables. Over the course of a hand, therefore, each team receives each set of hole cards in the same positions. A team’s collective skill in playing these hands and consistently outperforming the other teams determines their finishing position. In no way does the quality of the cards a player or team receives influence their chance of winning the tournament.
On each hand, a player will have a net change of chips – negative if they commit chips to the pot and do not win, zero if they fold without committing chips, and positive if they win the pot. This is an individual player’s “chip-score” for that hand. A team’s chip-score is simply the aggregate of all of its member’s individual chip-scores for that hand. Team chip-scores are compared and points are awarded according to the table below.
Where two or more teams have equal chip-scores, the associated points are shared between them.
This point structure is applied after each and every hand, and the team with the greatest number of points at the end of the tournament wins, with overall team chip-scores used only to settle ties.
A consequence of this scoring system is that each hand is as important as any other (i.e. the first hand of the tournament contributes just as many points as the very last, as does a hand with seemingly little action compared to a hand with multiple all-ins). During each hand players have no knowledge of how their teammates are performing on the other tables, and even the smallest of bets/calls could make all the difference when the aggregated team chip-scores are compared.
The IFP has adopted a sporting four-session event structure (akin to Basketball’s quarters) to allow teams to adapt and strategise throughout the course of the tournament. For the first time detailed hand logs will be freely available for teams and coaches to analyse previous sessions and revise their tactics.
In order to record and score the event, software has been designed to allow the table managers to input the actions of all players at the table (checks, calls, bets, raises and folds) along with the bet amounts on each round and the subsequent winner(s) of the pot. This software communicates directly with the scoring system that displays in-running scores as soon as a hand has been completed on all tables.
Player of the Tournament (and Player of each Seat)
While the 2013 European Nations Cup is primarily focused on crowning the overall winning National Team, and for deciding which six Nations progress through to the Nations Cup Finals, for the first time the IFP will also be awarding trophies to individual players who demonstrate great skill. These will be players with the highest overall chip-scores in each seat position. From these six players, the overall “Player of the Tournament” will be the player whose overall chip-score in relation to the average chip-score for their seat position is greatest. Eligible players must have played at least 200 hands during the course of the event.
Player Responsibility, Disputes and Sanctions
Despite electronic devices being incorporated for the very first time, it remains the responsibility of each player to keep their hole card information hidden. Players will use smartphones for information and to approve their chip-scores only, with real poker chips being used for all rounds of betting. Where other tournament tables are within earshot, players are also expected to refrain from any “table-talk” and audible reaction pertaining to the cards in play. Communication with teammates, of any nature, during a session of play, is strictly forbidden. No personal electronic devices may be used at any time and the tournament smartphones may not be used for anything other than logging into the Match Poker game itself.
Due to the speed of play naturally varying from table to table, the event schedule (including all start, finish and break timings) will be maintained as much as possible, but is subject to change at short notice. Players are kindly asked to act in a timely fashion and refrain from unnecessarily holding up play. Since tables must be full at all times, no “sitting out” is permitted, and teams must contain a reserve player (prohibited from viewing any of the action of the session in play) who may be called in as a substitute where necessary. In no circumstances may a reserve player play the same hand more than once on two or more different tables (reserve player hand tracking will be used to prevent this).
At the conclusion of each hand players are responsible to check and approve that the correct chip-score has been recorded against their name. Once this approval process has been completed and a new hand begins players no longer have the opportunity to dispute historical records.
The Tournament Director, Justin Huxley, at his discretion, may deduct points from any team(s) not adhering to these guidelines.