The Poker Nations Cup

Joe Beevers 'The Elegance'

By Joe Beevers

The Poker Nations Cup starts on terrestrial TV this week. The first 3 heats are on Channel 4 at 00.35hrs on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights. There are six teams of six representing Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the USA. I am not a great fan of ‘team’ poker – poker for me is not a team sport but this is a bit different. Previously team events have been tried where more than one player from the same team could be on the same table and involved in the same pot. This has caused problems with collusion and soft play which are cheating in poker.

The Poker Nations Cup is definitely a team event but there is never more than one player from each team in play. It works like this:

There are six heats of six players. Each player from each team plays in one heat. The captains draw for which team picks its player first, second and so on. This means that captains can choose players tactically if opposing captains choose before them.

Each player has paid $2000 in entry fees and sponsors 888.com have added $100,000. The winner of each heat collects the $12,000 and the winning team gets the $100K. Some teams agreed to split all their winnings with others only agreeing to split the $100K team money but taking the $12K if they win their heat.

Points are scored on the basis of 10-7-5-3-2-1 dependent on finishing position. Each point is worth 595 points (tournament chips) in the final.

In the final the captain must pick three players (this could obviously include themselves). The first must be substituted out by the end of the third level and the second by the end of the sixth. The third player will play to the death. There is also one ‘time out’ allowed in the final. This can be called at any time by a player (but not during a hand). The time out enables a 60 second discussion between player and team captain.

We filmed this event in Cardiff a few weeks back at Presentable Productions who were responsible for producing Late Night Poker. Late Night Poker started in 1999 and became a cult success with viewing figures in seven digits. Many other poker shows have been made and shown since on countless channels. The poker viewing public has started to lose interest and diehards have called for LNP to be brought back to our screens. William Hill came close to achieving something very similar with The Will Hill Grand Prix, also filmed by Presentable. The added money, the players, the crew and everyone involved made the best poker show for a while. I honestly believe that this will be Presentable’s finest hour when it comes to TV poker. So many *other* poker shows fail to deliver but this should get fans returning to their screens.

There were a number of side bets struck in Cardiff. The Swedes being in the same room as Ram Vaswani meant that very often bets were struck that dwarfed the prize money on offer. At one point an outright side bet had to be cancelled before a particular heat because it could have looked like the amount involved may affect the play.

Jesse May had set up as resident bookmaker in the green room and it was a good thing too because the players needed the extra cash. Jesse brought pockets full of sterling, Euros and dollars and went home with beans. I have known Jesse for years now and he has made a book on many events down in Cardiff. I can’t remember him having a winning series!

The Irish team were in good spirits and it seemed like a lot of players from other teams wanted to defect to the Green and Gold. When Katia played her heat for the German team she made some good plays. The Stefi Graff look-alike laughed and joked throughout and at one point Padraig shouted ‘A German with personality – you should frame her.’ Michael Keiner, Germany’s team captain, just looked up and smiled.

There were dozens of interviews and Vicky Coren was asking the questions. In his interview about his team mates, Christophe Haller told her that when Michael Keiner was a plastic surgeon, he would always refuse to perform breast reductions because he said it "made the world a worse place".

As well as the side bets on the heats there were dozens of laptops in the room with high stakes online poker being played. There were also the Chinese Poker schools. When the poker had finished for the day the teams would retire to the Hilton Hotel bar. I remember one night I was watching Ram play for $1000 a point against Eric and Ayhan from Sweden and Martin from Denmark. On the other side of the bar was a small Hold-em game going involving some of the online qualifiers. It was about 2am and the hotel manager came in saying that gambling wasn’t allowed in the hotel. He tried to stop the £5 sit n go unaware that Ram was winning over $100,000 according to the score in the Chinese on the other side of the room!

Another night Devilfish, The GB team captain, was trying to drag out fellow team members to go clubbing. Instead of getting them into bed and well rested for the heats that started at 10am the next morning he was propping them up on their way back in the early hours. I had to remind him that the job of a manager is to STOP the players doing that before a match! – What a great captain!

The final will be spread over 2 ninety minute programmes to incorporate the team captain’s player selections, reaction in the green room and the presentations. The event was great to take part in and should be great fun to watch. Enjoy!

The teams are as follows:

Great Britain

Dave Ulliott (Captain)
Ram Vaswani
Julian Gardner
Tony Bloom
Joe Beevers
Scott Griffiths - Online qualifier


Martin Wendt (Captain)
Jan Sorensen 
Rehne Pedersen
Theo Jorgensen
Christian Grundtvig
Anders Jensen - Online qualifier


Michael Keiner (Captain)
Andreas Krause
Roland Specht
Christoph Haller
Katja Thater
Sebastian Zentgraf - Online qualifier


Noel Furlong (Captain)
Padraig Parkinson
Scott Gray
Don Fagan
Rory Liffey
Mahala Maria Roche Online qualifier


Ken Lennaard (Captain)
Bengt Sonnert
Erik Sagstrom
Ayhan Alsancak
Fuat Can
Jens Lekstrom - Online qualifier


Robert Williamson III Capt.
Andy Bloch
Thomas Keller
Clonie Gowen
Kathy Liebert
Gregory Jennison - Online qualifier