Why poker qualifies as a sport

Why poker qualifies as a sport

There is often much debate over whether poker should actually be considered a sport, as well as a game. While on first inspection poker does not resemble traditional sports such as football or baseball, in fact there is a great deal of common ground where it matters.

The definition of a sport is a competitive activity played according to rules that requires both skill and physical exertion on the part of the players and is played for entertainment. In the last case, that could mean the entertainment of the players, as in an amateur baseball game played purely for fun, or for the entertainment of an audience, as in NFL football. As we shall see, poker meets all of these requirements.


The competitive element in poker is obvious for all to see. One reason why poker qualifies as a sport when other casino games do not is that in poker, players compete against each other, rather than against the house. This is still the case when playing poker at an NJ online casino, where a number of players all in their individual homes are linked up via their computers or mobile devices in a virtual poker room. Other online games where a player is just going up against a computer algorithm, would not count as a sport.

A game of skill

Some casino games are purely games of chance, but some, like poker, involve a large element of skill on the part of the player. If this were not the case, there would be no such thing as good or bad players, only lucky or unlucky ones, and which you were would change from day to day. Poker careers would then be impossible, and rankings unreliable. The fact that this is not the case proves that poker is indeed a game of skill.

In fact, many traditional sports have a far higher ratio of chance to skill than poker. While much depends on the hands you’re dealt, games are won or lost on how that hand is played, assessments of other players, and bluffing. These skills are developed and honed through practice and training, just as with other athletes.

Poker could be seen as a game of many small but vital decisions, starting with whether or not to play a hand. Similarly, a football player has to constantly decide whether to pass or run or try to score and so on. In both cases the ability to make these decisions quickly and correctly is a matter of skill honed by experience.

Physical endurance

The question of physical exertion in poker is the most controversial one, but it is nevertheless true that to be a successful poker player you have to be physically fit, certainly at a professional level. Long tournaments, lasting up to ten hours at a stretch, will take their toll and the player has to remained mentally focused under a great deal of stress throughout. That is why poker champions tend to be in their twenties or early thirties, like top athletes.

Acute hand-eye coordination is also required as well as the ability to stay mentally active and agile for long stretches of time. Top poker players need to have a regular workout regime to stay in shape. It could be argued that sports such as golf and even baseball are actually less taxing than poker.

It seems clear from this evidence that poker is definitely a sport, and the fact that it’s played for money while sitting down should not disqualify it from being regarded as such.