Should Poker be Considered a Sport?

Poker, like other gambling related games, even though whether playing poker is actually a gamble, compared to something like slot machines, is more often than not a matter of an old debate, and that is whether it should be considered a sport. Playing slot machines like the ones on Red Tiger Slots is definitely gambling, even though it is fun, but the results are completely randomized. Poker, on the other hand, takes skill and a lot of concentration.

The question remains, is it a sport?

Here are some arguments for and against poker being a sport:

Positive Arguments:

Poker is a game of concentration and requires a lot of skill and training, learning various methods and approaches to playing the game, as well as spending multiple hours sitting, analyzing and trying to make the right decision in a split-second. The mental fortitude which is required of the player to play the game correctly and win, even, is great, whilst mental stamina is also one of the skills a person should be able to develop to compete in poker professionally.

Learning all the possible and different ways of playing the game, bluffing, trying to figure out which hand to fold and which to call requires a lot of time and effort and mostly, practice. One does not get good at anything practical by reading theory and poker is no exception.

While the traditional part of a sport definition “requiring physical exertion and skill in which an individual competes against another or a team versus a team” that is related to physical exertion is lacking in poker, competitiveness is most certainly there. Even some famous athletes move on to poker because it is so competitive.

The World Series of Poker or WSOP, attracts players from all around the world and takes place for a period of two months. There is a buy in price of 10000 US dollars which enables one to enter the main event, with the prize being as high as 7 and a half million dollars for the winner. The money associated with professional sports is certainly there and so is the competitiveness, yet it is still not widely considered a sport.

Negative arguments:

Many who argue against poker being a sport will bring up the physical part which many deem essential to the definition of sport, unless you are talking about chess and billiard games, to some extent. When it comes to other games which require little to no physical effort, they are overlooked while poker is almost always clearly not a sport.

Many people argue that poker is also not a sport because it is a gambling game. Sometimes, men who are not as well-trained in poker or have the experience win games, yet such “upsets” have been known in many other sports, whether it is football or bowling.

Be that as it may, poker is listed under a sport category on ESPN’s homepage, and they have regular covers of poker events, as well as the Fox Network. Brazil has it listed as a Mind Sport in their Confederation of Mind Sports, similar to the International Mind Sports Association. While poker is still a provisional on their list of mind games, it is a good sign for those who consider it a sport, even though the matter is still up for debate.