It got little press in the United States. In fact, only the newly elected president of the organization wrote about it in the last of his personal blogs. But the presence of the International Federation of Poker (IFP) could alter the game of poker and its legality and regulation in numerous countries around the world going forward.
On April 29, the IFP was launched with a ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland, at which seven founding member countries’ poker groups joined forces to become the first international poker organization. In addition, they elected world-renowned author and poker spokesperson Anthony Holden as its president. The founder members are listed as:
Danish Poker Federation - Denmark Federation Francaise 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
The global poker-related governing body looks to combine the forces of various countries to form an international sports-type federation, similar to the International Olympic Committee also based in Lausanne. In the process of establishing its presence, talks are in progress with 20 other countries, some of whom will likely join the IFP as well as the seven already in cooperation. The goal, according to Holden, is to accumulate 75-100 countries as members in the first three years.
The IFP’s purpose will be to make “an international case for poker as a ‘mind sport.’” “If we can achieve membership,” Holden said, “it will be a huge step towards poker becoming legal everywhere, and eliminating the restraints many countries are imposing on the game.” In addition, the IFP will gather evidence to prove beyond doubt that poker is a game of skill and seek to use that information in countries engaged in fights to legalize and regulate the game.
Another important goal of the IFP will attempt to devise a standardized set of tournament rules that can and will be implemented on an international basis. Though the World Poker Association has attempted such a feat over the past few years, the WPA began to fade without solid leadership, goals, and movement toward those goals. If the IFP can maintain its global status and begin to exert influence through the international poker community, the chances of success increase, and the organization’s hope of bringing chess- and bridge-like acceptance and respect to the game of poker could become more of a reality.
Holden called his election a “distinct honour” and noted, “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.”
As of the penning of this article, the IFP website is not yet operational but will eventually be found at IntFedPoker.com. Information about upcoming events and tournaments will be released when available as well.