Many sports have been forced online as a result of the pandemic, presenting huge challenges to rights holders. However, it has also created opportunity, particularly for youthful start-up sports that are agile and able to adapt, such as Match Poker.
Founded in April 2009 in Lausanne, Switzerland, home of the IOC and FIFA, the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) champions poker as a 'mind-sport of strategic skill', alongside chess, bridge, draughts and Go.
The game is played completely digitally, on mobile devices, and free of conventional cards or chips. “Our sport is all about data and analysis, ensuring luck is not a deciding factor in crowning our Champions.” Said Patrick Nally, President of the IFMP.
Whilst it’s best played as a live sport (similar to an esports event), IFMP responded to the unprecedented circumstances of 2020 by hosting its Nations Cup event virtually - using Cisco’s Webex and their unique Match Poker gameplay software to recreate the live experience.
The success of this event confirmed Match Poker as currently the only recognised fully ‘digital sport’. This is significant because it gives the IFMP advantages over other sports who are constrained by physical barriers and costs. And it also provides a roadmap for other sports to embrace technology and adapt to a digital-first world.
IFMP has evolved from its original seven member nations to over 60 national federations across 6 continents. Now running both live and digital Match Poker events, the number of participants will only increase. As such, other governing bodies should consider how they can similarly embrace digital to make themselves more inclusive and to keep their fans engaged.