Is Poker a Sport or a Game?

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Is Poker a Sport or a Game?
In this photograph taken on October 25, 2019, poker gaming chips stand on a table during a casino croupier job training session in Mulhouse, eastern France. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images)

Is poker a sport or a game? While poker is hardly the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word ‘sport’, if you look at the dictionary definition, you’ll see it falls well within its remit. The definition is as follows, ‘an activity involving physical exertion or skill, in which an individual or team compete against another, or others, for entertainment.’ Sure, poker may not burn the same number of calories as a marathon or a 90-minute soccer match, but it is a game of serious skill and mental exertion – rather than something people do to merely pass the time. Poker is a sport, and today we’re going to list the reasons why those that compete in tournaments like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) are athletes in their own right…

Is Poker a Sport or a Game?

Poker is Entertaining

Just ask the crowds that flock to Las Vegas, or to casinos across the globe, to watch the best poker players in the world do their thing, year after year. Watching poker is an edge-of-your-seat experience where everything can change in the course of one hand. It’s a game where the underdog or even a complete unknown can defeat the most established player on the block. It’s a sport when the unexpected can, and often does happen. Poker is sheer entertainment (even down to the fun outfits some players rock). Why else would it be televised?

Poker is competitive…

If poker were merely a game, no one would care about the outcome, because the outcome would be of no consequence. Poker is built around being competitive. The best poker players are true masters of their craft. While the cards they are dealt depend on luck – what they then choose to do with them is where the magic happens. It’s where they can apply their knowledge and flourish. Poker players have history. They have grudges and vendettas to pursue each other. Competition is what makes poker interesting, and – it’s what makes it a sport!

Poker is Exhausting

While the vast majority of poker players probably can’t bench press anything impressive, there is no doubt that playing poker involves physical exertion. Just you try and concentrate for that many hours at a stretch and tell me you’re not completely exhausted! In addition to the sheer concentration factor, poker players’ brains are in overdrive. They are reading other players, strategizing, they are seeing off the less experienced players in order to get to the finals, they need to pace themselves, but they also need to be ‘on’ constantly. They may not be doing sit-ups for five hours straight, but make no mistake – poker players are strong as hell.

Poker Requires Training

Did you ever hear of anyone training for a game of Monopoly? How about a game of hopscotch? I didn’t think so. Poker is a sport because every player, especially the ones that win, are highly trained. To achieve these big wins, poker players have read and absorbed every piece of knowledge they can find on the sport. They have honed their skills over years of hard work, worked with professional coaches, studied under mentors. Games are about luck. Sports are about dedication. And poker players are as dedicated as they come.

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