All In: Is Poker a Sport?

When Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker, his win inspired not only a new generation of poker players and the poker industry. Ten year later, professional poker is one of the fastest growing games in the world and has been questioned as whether it should even be considered gambling. Many that play the game know that it is a skill game and consider it a sport on part with baseball and football. The question is whether or not that the game can truly be considered a sport.

The answer really isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem. If you look at a traditional sport, it is an activity that requires some type of physical activity in order to complete the task. Anyone that has ever played poker knows that about the most activity a poker player gets while playing is getting up to go to the restroom. There are many examples of overweight, obese players,. and the game also prides itself to being accessible to those with physical handicaps.

Next, you have to consider the mental element in poker. For most sports, if you have the raw talent and ability, everything else is secondary. Baseball and football was famous in the past for having players who couldn’t even read or write their name. A poker player who does not have strong mental ability will not be able to survive very long as they are relying purely on luck.

Each time a poker player sits down to play a game of poker, they are constantly using their brain in order to not only devise their own strategy, but also to decipher the strategy of their opponents. This isn’t a temporary exercise either. The great players are constantly doing this for every hand of a game, and many tournament sessions can go from 10 to 14 hours in a day.

The International Mind Sport Association probably has the best definition of poker when it recognized the game as a mind sport. While it would be easy to say that the issue is settled there, a trend has been noticed by top pros and poker reporters alike over the last few years. The top poker players in the world almost all are in excellent physical condition. Long gone are the days of pot-bellied poker players ruling the poker world.

When this trend is investigated, the players in great shape have admitted that staying in good shape actually helps their game. Poker is a long ordeal and puts a lot of physical and mental stress on the body. Exercise helps not only to combat stress, but also to help the body with increased stamina, focus, and improved mood.

After taking a look at all the aspects, one cannot consider poker a sport in the mold of traditional sports. At the same time, one has to concede that mental ability needed does help to elevate the game above that of traditional “games.”

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A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.

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