Sergey, your Full House club opened this week. How does it work now?
I would like to clarify that the club is not mine, mine is the Full House trademark. The owners of the club bought the franchise. The club works in test mode, tournaments are held. There are first winners. Now they have raised a fuss, but there is no entertainment facility there because it is an exclusive sports poker club where tournament competitions in sports poker are held.
By "noise" do you mean the material that says Full House is a gambling establishment?
Journalists came, no one was hiding from them, nothing was hiding. They said that at first, we refused to speak, and then we conducted an excursion - this was not the case. They wanted to interview me, I invited them to the Sports Poker Federation office. Not only that, but they asked to shoot the plot in the club itself, for my part I agreed with the owners of the club. They showed everything so that the journalists were convinced that there were no entertaining casinos, cabarets and so on. But all the same, they decided not to write anything about their achievements, but to cut phrases out of context for some reason.
What is the difference between sports poker and gambling poker?
Sports poker is purely tournament poker. The law stipulates that the prize fund is formed from the entry fees, and the players receive the winnings depending on the occupied place in the tournament. And the game of chance at poker is a money game. The man came, bought chips, sat down at the table. I played one hand, won, got up, took the money and left. This is a gambling game. There are no chip purchases in the tournament. This is purely a prize fund. There are generally free tournaments. The player makes an entry fee and receives a ticket in which the program places them at the tables, you can see the table, the seat at the table. Everyone gets their initial stacks, the initial amount of chips, they all have the same, all in equal conditions. And they play. Or they take chips from other tournament participants and reach the final table, get a seat and a prize. As a percentage, the amount of the prize fund is divided. Or all the chips lose and are eliminated. A tournament is a long process; if you enter a tournament, you already play to the end. And gambling is a gambling game, there is a purchase of chips, a sale of chips, and there are no regulations.
Are sports poker players different from gamblers?
There are exclusively tournament players, they go to big tournaments and do not play "cash". Some play both. Here and the strategy is different. When playing in cash, you have one strategy for money, but in tournament poker, you have a completely different strategy. Many are recruiting coaches, there are different schools of poker. These are paid schools that train professionals from amateurs. These are people who live and earn poker, professional poker players. There are professional boxers, there is boxing at the Olympics, and there is professional boxing. It seems to be happening here. After the game, people sort out the hands. Did you do the right thing in this case, wrong? If it is wrong, it marks it and draws appropriate conclusions for the future. In addition to miscalculation and mathematics, there are analyzes. And you constantly have to play, because, without practice, there will not be a success. Besides, there is also a big psychological factor, because you need to control yourself and not give out your emotions. There was a picture of dogs playing poker. Two aces came and the dog starts wagging its tail. Therefore, training, analysis of hands, conclusions, practice.
Does it hurt you when sports poker clubs call casinos?
Yes, very much offending. Because we are not a casino. I do not have a bad attitude towards a casino when it is regulated and done correctly, legally and controlled. This is even a plus, I think so. Because there are still illegal establishments, people are playing, but people are defenseless there. If everything is settled, this is only a plus. But linking sports poker clubs and sports poker with casinos has long been wrong. Sports poker has long been separated from casinos, since 2006 it has gone as a separate branch. This can be seen even if we take neighboring Belarus. Poker tournaments are separate, they are also there without a license. And the casino is separate. Even if you take India, the gambling business is generally prohibited there, and everyone plays sports, and it is recognized as a sport.
When did poker become a sport in Ukraine?
We have started to deal with the recognition of poker as a sport tightly since 2017. Before that, we applied several times and were refused because we were not part of the International Federation. When the process began, and we signed an agreement with the International Federation and became a member of a large world poker family, we began the process of recognizing the International Federation in Ukraine. We submitted a lot of documents to both the sports committee and the Olympic committee. They first were recognized, and after all, the Ministry, after reviewing all the documents, decided to recognize sports poker as a sport and enter it into the register of non-Olympic sports. This happened in August 2018. After that, a competition was announced for the national status of the federation. We won it, and in October we were given national status. And after that, the process of forming the national team has already started.
Tell us about the Ukrainian sports poker team. What awards are there already?
We assembled the first team in 2018. We started the selection, invited all the champions of Ukraine from previous years to the squad. We looked at the stability of the game, we had guys who played well abroad, owners of WSOP bracelets. A girl who plays very well online. And offline it has stable performance. Based on these indicators, we have assembled the first team and held training sessions. At the same time, if all national teams have access to the matchpoker program, and they trained in the same way as they played, the distribution was sorted out on the tablets. Then we trained on ordinary decks, as in the Stone Age. The matchpoker program is software that is transferred to the National Federations for the conduct of the match poker league, match poker teams training. This is not on the Internet, it is on the server with us, and the tablets are connected, there are no cards and chips, but this is all a tablet. This makes the training process cheaper. At that time we did not have this, because we only received national status, only assembled the national team, and the rest have been training there for years. But as a bonus, as a new member of the international federation, we were invited to take part in the championship. We arrived and won immediately. This is the first cup. The favorites there were the Germans and Ireland, and we, like a dark horse, rushed in and simply tore everyone to pieces. They have provided, as in Eurovision, the country that wins - the next one will host the Nations Cup. But they treated us with caution, and the World Cup of Nations was not given to us but given to host the European Cup of Nations. There were 12 European teams on it. We were able to try other guys at the European Nations Cup and even experimenting, we took bronze. The final was supposed to take place in Peru. But the situation with the coronavirus began around the world and it was canceled. It was held in a different format. 16 teams participated. And our team won there again. The composition of the team for May is already being formed, there will be a European Cup of Nations.
You are the head of the National Sports Poker Federation of Ukraine. What does she do?
We are dedicated to popularizing the sport of poker itself. Organization and holding of the main competitions - the Cup and the Championship of Ukraine. We draw up schedules and approve them with all infrastructure facilities. This is done to ensure that major tournaments do not overlap. We want to organize a Matchpoker League this year, there will be three leagues - amateurs, the first league and the professional one. Matchpoker is already close to being recognized as an Olympic sport. I would like our National Team and League to be strong.
Does the Federation monitor illegal poker clubs?
As far as possible, we are following. It would be nice to cooperate in this regard with both the Gambling Commission and law enforcement agencies. There are a lot of illegal clubs, and they play for money under the guise of sports poker. This is how sports poker and the Federation are discredited, although they have no documents from the Federation.
How can Ukrainians change their opinion about sports poker?
This is a complex process, the social factor is very strong, and this is not a matter of one day. The first challenge is to change public opinion about sports poker. Today people, when they see cards and chips, think - this is everything, a casino. This process will not be fast, I think we will deal with it for years.
Interview especially for gamingpost.net
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