PATRICK NALLY: Man on a Mission

patrick-nallyWhat we have done is maximised the use of technology to enhance the sport experience for players, spectators and the TV audience.

Patrick Nally, founding father of modern sports marketing
and president of the International Federation of Poker.

As President of the International Federation of Poker, sports industry veteran Patrick Nally has developed a new, non-gambling, skill-based variant of the traditional game and embraced digital technology to create an exciting live TV format.

In a sports media and marketing career spanning nearly half a century, Patrick Nally has been close to some of the most ground-breaking deals and strategically important developments the industry has seen.
As CEO of seminal British sports marketing agency West Nally he was responsible for creating the blue print for marketing the FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships to major global brands and the blueprint he created remains largely unchanged to this day.
Over the years he and his team have worked endlessly with broadcasters around the world and his knowledge of the importance of quality media coverage to building a positive event experience and brand is second to none.
But now Nally is coming to the market with a new television product which, he believes, will change the way the world looks at and engages with what he sees as ‘the ultimate mind sport.’
As President of the International Federation of Poker he is overseeing a programme to develop Match Poker, a variant of Texas Hold’em in which the luck of the draw has been all but eliminated making it a ‘true mind sport.’

Nally’s goal is for Match Poker to be recognised by Sportaccord, the umbrella organisation for 93 International Sports Federations and deals are already in place to form national Match Poker leagues and to develop a series of international competitions. The Nations Cup of Match Poker – effectively the World Championship- takes place in Berlin in October and excitement is mounting among the 50 national teams, which will be taking part.
Match Poker is a team competition in which players in a particular seat are dealt exactly the same cards as their equivalent on other tables. That makes it a test of skill with players competing against their table and the way they perform against their opposite numbers in the room.The response to the new format has been overwhelmingly positive. Because authorities have accepted Match Poker as “non-gambling”, events are no longer restricted to gaming-licensed casino environments and can be staged in any venue. The first IFP Nations Cup was held on the world-famous London Eye.TV was to forefront of Nally’s thinking as he and his team at the IFP developed its Match Poker strategy.


“We needed to find a way of making Match Poker easy to understand and more engaging as a live event and technology has enabled us to do just that”, said Nally who has concluded a partnership with both a major Media Group and a leading Games Software Company in China to launch, in conjunction with the Board and Card Game Group of The Chinese Sport Ministry, Match Poker Leagues throughout all Chinese provinces.

“Most poker on TV is edited and packaged but Match Poker takes this most challenging of mind sports into an entirely new television age. Because we have developed it as a truly 21st century sport making the most of digital technology we are able to make Match Poker an fantastically exciting live spectacle and in the world of sports media live is the biggest value-add there is.

To start with match Poker is played without traditional cards. Instead each player is dealt digital cards to their smartphone. The consequence is a complete digital record of every hand which gives directors the opportunity to show any hand at any time, allowing them to compare the way the same hand is used by different players.

What we have done is maximised the use of technology to enhance the sport experience for players, spectators and the TV audience”, Nally explained.

“We have developed a compelling TV format for Match Poker that deliberately schedules its feature table to begin once all of the outer tables have concluded play. This way, with teammates watching alongside the audience, live sporting drama can be achieved and the statistics and analysis utilised to the maximum”.

“I would say Match Poker technology produces a level of analysis not previously possible in poker. The complete Match Poker System includes tools to track every single poker action made during a tournament, replay an animated version of play at every table, automate scoring, and generate a wealth of statistics,” he said.

In match poker ranking are based on skill and performance rather than amount of money won by gambling. Although there is no gambling prize money can be allocated to the winners in the same way as mainstream professional sports such as tennis and golf.

“This is one of the most exciting projects I have ever been involved with because it transforms an established game and takes it in an entirely new direction. In doing so we are creating a data rich TV project which combines the human drama of winning and losing with the wealth of data which provides directors with new ways of telling the story of the action as it unfolds on screen”, Nally said.

“Most of all I am excited because this is all about skill and opening the game to people who may have been either forbidden from playing and enjoying poker because of domestic legislation or put off by tis traditional association with casinos and gambling. Match Poker takes an exciting sport into the mainstream and creates tremendous opportunities for broadcasters and sponsors alike”, he said.