The cultural significance of poker makes it stand out as a form of entertainment, a skill development endeavor, or a competitive undertaking. As far as casino games are concerned, it is one of the most popular ones on the planet. It is safe to say that it is also one of the most popular games especially in the US. This is something that we can all agree on. But is poker a sport? This question has caused an on-going debate that has pitted lots of different opinions against each over the years. We conducted a bit of research into the matter, and here’s what we found.
Definition of a Sport
A sport can be defined as any activity that requires the participants to have some skill and involves them competing opponents. It can be played for entertainment or as a profession and will always involve physical exertion to a given extent. So, is poker considered a sport if we keep that definition in mind?
The definition of a sport is different from the definition of a game – which most people agree that poker certainly is. A game is any competitive activity played for entertainment and involves using a given set of rules.
So, since poker is a game and sports can be considered a subset of games, what is the relation between poker and sports? Let’s find out.
Poker Versus Sport
Poker has to fit into this description in more than one way to be classified as a sport, and in this article, we will show you how it does.
Poker as a Game of Skill
The first thing that we noted in the definition of sporting activities was the fact that they have to involve the use of some skill. All games of skill are, by extension, sports, and there is no reason why poker should be left out.
Just like in many other sporting activities, everything you do in a game of poker is influenced by decisions. Every single action that a player takes requires skill since one has to be able to know whether said action will yield specific results.
At its core, the game is influenced by luck, but players have to make a calculated gamble. In comparison, other sporting activities are based on players making decisions that are expected to yield specific results. However, things do not always go according to plan.
Moreover, given all the strategies that are involved in poker games, it is easy to see why many people consider it to be a sport. By looking into such things as physical cues and employing other mathematical tactics, the good players can take advantage of other players.
The Competitive Aspect
Most, if not all, sporting activities are essentially competitions. This competitive aspect is what makes sports so fun and engaging for both the spectators and the players. Poker, unlike most other casino games, involves multiple players playing against each other. The best player will be the one who is able to beat all the others by utilizing a solid combination of skills and strategies.
Today, the competitive nature of poker can be seen from all the high-profile tournaments where many poker pros go to play for huge prizes. The fact that it can be played professionally means that it easily passes for a sporting activity that involves loads of training and practice to be good at.
Moreover, the poker players themselves have even been ever to achieve celebrity status for participating in high-profile tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the European Poker Tour (EPT), among others.
Physical and Mental Exertion
Poker games are usually all about people sitting at poker tables for extended periods of time, which does not necessarily portray physical exertion. However, for many professional poker players, there are elements of both physical exertion at the poker table, even though it is not up to the levels of traditionally accepted sporting activities such as soccer or football. Mental exertion is far more pronounced in poker, a trait that it shares with several different kinds of sporting activities.
Could Poker Become an Olympic Sport?
Back in 2017, Match Poker, a variation of poker that involves participants just playing at the poker tables, was accepted in the Olympic family. The Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) granted the game Observer status, particularly because it trimmed down on specific aspects of the game. This variant was not about gambling and instead focused on the game itself.
Now, this is certainly not ideal since it is not the true game of poker being played at the Olympics, but the idea of having poker accepted as an Olympic Sport is no longer that far-fetched. This will take quite a bit of time though especially considering all of the on-going debates.
The Olympics has, in ancient times, involved some competitions where mental capabilities and wits were rewarded. Today, the event is less about mind sports and more about physical fetes that are much more exciting to watch. Moreover, the fact that poker is still predominantly associated with gambling casinos raises some ethical questions since the Olympics are often a family-friendly event. Gambling, and by extension, poker, are mainly tailored to cater to adult audiences.
So, Is Poker Considered a Sport?
It is safe to conclude that poker is a mind-sport even simply because it meets a lot of the things that define traditional sporting activities. There is no definitive answer to this question primarily because of the differing opinions about the question. As such, it mostly all comes down to personal arguments in favor of or against the idea.
Here, we consider poker as sports because it is competitive, involves both physical exertion and mental prowess, is played for entertainment, and is even televised on many popular sports-centered broadcasting channels. Hopefully, that is the clear-cut answer that you have always been looking for.