Poker as sport

The question of whether poker is a sport splits many experts

Over the years, there have been disputes of what poker is. For some, it’s a game of strategy and skill; for others, it is a game of chance.

Although poker was officially awarded the title of “Thinking” a few years ago by the International Minds Association (IMSA) – this does not necessarily mean that everyone accepts it. According to the IMSA, poker joins the group of chess, drafts, and bridge in a group.

This is a thorn in the side of critics and it refers to the fact that the issue of cards is determined by a random principle; like roulette, you cannot influence the whole process. Of course, this is completely true from this point of view, but the game is made up of many other factors we humans can influence.

However, the way decisions are made all by ourselves and nobody else makes the difference. This means that we can influence the game itself. Apart from that, poker is a game of mathematics based on probabilities. It is up to each player to deal with these probabilities to improve themselves and assess their chances of winning.

In sports, you have to train hard to be better than the others and nothing else, which is also applicable to poker. Professional poker players work hard on their game and spend a lot of time analyzing other players and adjusting their strategy. No doubts, poker is just like sports – the better player wins!

A casual player who just plays for fun can never be as good as someone who deals with the game on a daily basis. The same principle applies to football or tennis. Playing a bit out of the hobby is far from being like watching daily for several hours.

Nevertheless, happiness decides in the short term

It is a fact that in the long run, the better player prevails over the bad ones, but in the short term even the worst poker player in the world can win against the best in the world when luck is on his side. And just because of this luck / pitch factor, the critics are very clear that poker is not a sport but a game of chance.

Let’s football as an example: How often does it happen that big football teams lose to small amateur teams? Sure, when a top team play 20 times against an amateur team, you usually know who will be the winner, but there are exceptions and sometimes it just happens that the amateurs are the lucky winners. This shows again how close poker is to the sport.


It will be desirable if poker gets an official and objective definition. The definition of the word “sport” is basically not the same as what you do in poker. The term “sport” is understood to mean different forms of movement, play and competition, which are related to the physical activities of humans. Now we know that you do not have to physically exert yourself while playing poker, nor is this the case with chess or bridge, which is why it would not be completely unrealistic to classify poker as a brain teaser.

But if you play poker professionally, you know that you have to strain your head for it and you also have to be well-trained. Although, critics oppose it and insist that it is not a typical brain teaser.

As it stand, these statements might be right. Of course, a clear decision would be desirable anyway. The appointment of the IMSA poker for thought-making has certainly been an important step, but due to fact that the public poker continues to refer to it as a game of chance, there won’t be significant changes.

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Daniel Berger

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The last changes of the page “Is Poker a sport?” was made by Daniel Berger on April 15, 2019