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NEWS 8 March 2016

Alibaba looking to exploit loopholes, introducing poker to China

By Edward Obeng
Match Poker, a non-gambling form of the game, is set to target China, as part of deal struck between Aliliba Group an e-commerce company and media agency Oceans Sport and Entertainment.

Details of the deal have not been released but the companies say its aims to develop two million Chinese poker players over the next five years.

Apart from the regions of Hong Kong and Macau and in state-governed lotteries, gambling in the country is illegal, however unlike variants such as Hold’em and Stud, Match Poker has removed many of the traditional elements involved in poker.

The product, created by International Federation of Poker (IFP), is a team-based version of poker where players play for points rather than money, and cards are dealt via smartphones rather than in person.

IFP believe the biggest factor surrounding the classification of the game revolves around the idea that it is based on skill rather than luck, as the software also ensures an equal opportunity for teams to win, something which standard poker cannot guarantee.

Patrick Nally, president of IFP, said: "The alliance between Oceans and Alibaba Sports creates one of the most powerful forces in sports marketing anywhere in the world.

"I am delighted that their energies, attention, and resources will be focused on launching and promoting Match Poker and that they share my belief in its massive worldwide potential."

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