Poker is perhaps the most popular card game on the planet. Global tournaments garner a viewership in the millions with prize money even larger, reaching upwards of eight figures.
Poker’s basic rules are fairly simple, with cards dealt randomly before the players then wager based on their hand. Although an element of luck is inevitable, poker demands much more skill than other card games to be played successfully.
This usually takes the form of card counting to more accurately estimate the strength of other people’s hands. Masking the strength of your own hand is equally important and a strong ‘poker face’ is vital to consistent triumphs.
Even with an average hand, talented poker players can bluff their way to winning the round. The prominent requisite of skill means that, for some people, poker can be a lucrative full time job paying millions.
Poker owes much of its current popularity to the many different ways it can be enjoyed and its profound social element. Although typically played around a physical table with friends, an increasing amount of people prefer to play poker online at trusted sites as 888poker.
A debate that has recently emerged surrounding the game is whether it should be considered a sport. There are valid arguments both for and against poker’s inclusion as a sport, some of which will be discussed below.
What Defines a Sport?
A key question in the debate regarding whether poker should hold sport status is what specifically constitutes a sport. The term ‘sport’ has always been both nonspecific and fiercely debated.
The term covers a diverse range of activities from football and rugby to fishing and chess online. Whilst some activities are unanimously recognized as sports, others attract strong opposition in a manner similar to poker.
It’s understandable that sport enthusiasts reject many card games being branded a sport due to the significant amounts of luck involved. Poker differs from this by having a prevalent skill and tactical factor that is seen in almost every other conventional sport.
Why Poker Should be Considered a Sport
Those advocating for poker to achieve sport status aren’t limited to regular players and poker enthusiasts. Official backing comes from The International Mind Sport Association, who have validated poker’s claim as a sport since 2010.
Poker also requires both physical and mental fitness in order to be played at the highest level. Professional players have frequently stressed the importance of both during high pressure tournaments.
Poker players need to think strategically and not get distracted nor fatigued. Whilst it doesn’t compare to more physically demanding sports as shown with football online, the need for exercise resembles what’s required of other sporting athletes.
Another way in which poker bears similarities to other sports is the level of exertion it demands. Those who think the extent of this within poker is moving a few chips and cards are very mistaken.
As with more conventional sports, mental fatigue is a significant worry for players and can drastically alter results. Poker players are sat for hours at a time and must stay attentive and composed throughout to avoid costly mistakes.
This level of mental exertion necessary to play poker is undoubtedly comparable to many other sports. ESPN and Sports Illustrated regularly cover poker news which shows interest in poker is prominent amongst fans of other sports.
Arguments Against Poker Being Considered a Sport
Despite its many advocates, there is arguably a louder voice amongst those opposed to poker’s inclusion as a sport. The criticism most often cited against poker is the significant luck element.
Although an individual’s skill is integral to deciding an overall result, the strength of a player’s hand is wholly luck dependent. As a result, less talented players can gain huge advantages over their competitors solely due to chance.
Whilst other sports demand years of practice to excel at, luck alone can progress even the most average of players. Luck is present in every sport; however, it is undeniably a much more significant factor in poker.
However, luck can only get an average player so far and good and bad poker players exist for a reason.
Another common criticism is the lack of visual spectacle for viewers of poker matches. Critics label poker boring and unexciting as it mainly consists of watching competitors sit around a table.
On the other hand, many sports are similarly tame for those spectating such as bowling or golf. One of the most valued aspects of sport viewing is the immense pressure on those involved.
Poker derives much of its entertainment value for spectators from the lucrative prize funds. Watching an expert buff in professional poker can be as rewarding as seeing a spectacular shot in golf or football.
People are so captivated by cup finals due to the stakes and gravity of the achievement. With the amount of money up for grabs at major poker tournaments, this same sporting premise applies.
Is Poker on Its Way to Being Considered a Sport?
It’s no accident that poker is perhaps the most popular card game ever created. With many elements that resemble conventional sports, it holds much of the same appeal.
Usually, one of the most valued aspects of viewing a sport is the pressure involved. World tournaments with life changing prize money makes for nail-biting viewing of professional poker.
Some of the negative associations of poker mean that many of its intrinsic sport-like qualities are overlooked and disregarded. It’s competitive, takes skill and entertains millions of fans worldwide annually.
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