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Does Poker Qualify As a Sport?



does poker qualify as a sport?

Does Poker Qualify As a Sport?

Like any other pastime activity, poker overlaps the line between “game” and “sport.” Poker’s game part is not in question; however, there is an interesting debate on whether poker qualifies as a sport. Does poker qualify as a sport? This article seeks to delve deeper into this question to settle this issue once and for all!


What is a sport?

Before determining whether poker qualifies as a sport, it would help to define what a sport is, right? According to the Oxford Dictionary, a sport is an activity that involves physical exertion and skill. Furthermore, individuals or teams compete against each other or for amusement.

On the other hand, the American Heritage Dictionary defines sport as “an active pastime; diversion; recreation.” It also defines sport as a diversion involving physical exercise with rules and a set form.  

Based on the definition above, let’s examine whether poker can qualify as a sport!


Does Poker Involve Physical Exercise?

Many poker enthusiasts have revealed that the game’s sessions are sometimes lengthy. That means it requires physical energy, vigilance, resilience, and general fitness. Your mental health also plays a critical role in boosting your chances of winning just like in other sports. 

For example, the physical grind you’ll need for a poker tournament like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is real. To make it to the tournament’s later stages, you must endure days of mental and physical stress.

According to reports, the WSOP-Europe at Empire Casino in Leicester Square is the longest poker tournament. It lasted about 22 hours if you included the breaks. You’ll need stamina and physical fitness to sit down for nearly 24 hours and maintain concentration.

So, yes, poker involves physical exercise.


Does Poker Require Skill?

Researchers have confirmed that poker combines elements of chance and skill. For instance, the cards dealt determine the outcome of each hand. But players use their knowledge, experience, and strategies to boost their chances of winning.

As a result, this rules out the notion that poker is a game of chance in its entirety. Nonetheless, this argument does not mean that the element of chance is not significant. Even if you have the best strategy and the best hand, you can still lose if your opponents make unexpected moves.

But, if you play with the maximum amount of skill, you can reduce how luck affects the game over time. For example, luck can have you lose money over one hand. However, over months you will discover that good and bad luck balance out, letting skill take over and tip the balance in your favour.


What skills do poker players require?

  • Math skills: These skills ensure that you don’t risk your hard-earned cash on chance. For instance, you only wager at tables where your odds of winning are more favourable than your pot’s.
  • Play conservatively: When you play conservatively, you put yourself in the strongest position. For instance, only get involved in hands when you’ve been dealt strong hole cards. You should also be ready to fold later in hand if things are not going your way.
  • Don’t waste time going for unrealistic draws: This strategy implies that you should only draw when the pot odds and chances of hitting the card are favourable.
  • Target the weakest players: Poker is ruthless, meaning you must identify and exploit weak opponents.

Therefore, we can accurately conclude that poker requires skill. Therefore, the same way athletes choose a sport that suits their abilities, you should choose poker if you can exercise the skills mentioned above. 


Can Individuals or Teams Compete Against Each Other in Poker?

It is obvious that poker involves competition between individuals where every player is in it for their own interest. Additionally, team competitions are held occasionally. For instance, during massive events like the Tag Team No-Limit Hold ’em tournament held at the WSOP.  

The Tag Team is a two-player poker game format. The poker rules don’t change. The only difference is that instead of a single player playing a stack of chips throughout the tournament, you can tag other players to take over, similar to how wrestlers tag in one another during a match. There are also other forms used to play poker as a team sport.

In this regard, poker involves competition between individuals and teams.


Does Poker Qualify as Entertainment?

Finally, poker definitely qualifies as entertainment! There are millions of players worldwide who participate in poker games for entertainment. A recent research revealed that over 100 million players globally play poker online. Out of these, over 40% play it for fun and entertainment.

Additionally, television coverage of poker tournaments like WSOP attracts massive viewership worldwide. For instance, the 2016 tournament’s finale attracted over 1 million viewers on ESPN.

Therefore, it is correct to say that poker qualifies as entertainment.


Final Thoughts

Based on the evidence presented in this article, it is correct to conclude that poker is a sport. Here are the four conclusions we can draw from our discussion:

  • Poker involves physical exercise
  • Poker requires skill
  • It involves competition
  • And it qualifies as entertainment.

Based on the definition of the term “sport,” it is correct to state that poker is a sport!


We hope you enjoyed the article “Does Poker Qualify As a Sport?” Are you a fan of playing poker? Let us know!


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Jacob graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Reading. An avid footballer, he spent time under the FAW academy programme as well as Cardiff Corinthians. Later going on to play for his university and Wellington United whilst residing in New Zealand. He currently resides in Frome, Somerset. You can contact him at [email protected]


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