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Should Poker be considered as a Sports Game?

Posted on November 30, 2020 by John Harris

Various ongoing debates are trying to determine whether poker is a sports game or just a kind of gambling. According to the arguments from many poker enthusiasts, they argue that poker is a sports game since it has several sports characteristics. In this article, we shall discuss some of the aspects of both sport and gambling to allow us to make a satisfactory conclusion if the poker is a sports game or not. The only way to help us make a reasonable conclusion is through going by logic and not sentiment. Below are some of the essential things to help you determine if poker is a sports game. They include;

How can we define sports?

From our research, we can define sport as any activity that involves two competing parties and requires some skills to play and win. Therefore, from that definition, we can point out that sport requires two competing teams, needs some rules to play the game, and requires skills.

  • Gambling definition

Gambling is a game of chance played for money. That means the involved parties stake money intending to get profit. Since some people gamble for fun, we cannot say that poker is an entirely gambling game. That is because many plays for fun and take time to get playing skills. Therefore, it would be appropriate to classify poker as a kind of gambling.

According to the two definitions stated earlier, poker games have more features of sports than gambling. Thus, before we conclude, it would be better to discuss sports games’ characteristics vs. gambling. Without further ado, let begin our discussion

Characteristics of sports games

Various features can help us to classify a particular game, whether it is a sports game or not. Below are some of the characteristics of sports. They include;

  • Has rules

One of the unique things about sports games is that they have special rules that govern them. Therefore, before you play any sports game, you must be familiar with the game rules. Comparing gambling and sports, we can say that gambling does not require any rules to play. All you need is to choose the games that you need to play and stake your money. To play the poker game, you must know the various poker rules. For instance, if you need to win on poker, you must be willing to match the player’s bet. Therefore, since poker has its set of rules, it satisfies one condition of being classified as a sport.

  • Played for fun     

According to the various definitions of sport, it is clear that a sport gets played for fun. That means players choose to play the game not to make money but to enjoy different moments.

  • Involves skills

One needs to master the skills required to play a particular game. For instance, if you need to play football, you must be aware of the playing tips and rules. That is because if you do not know those tips, you will not play as needed. Just like any other sports game, poker requires some skills to play. Whether you are a newbie or a pro poker player, you can choose to learn the top skills to play poker.

  • Involves physical and mental exertion

Sports games involve physical exertion. That means you exercise some of your body parts such as hands. Another great thing about poker is that it is good for improving brain performance. That is because you subject it to too much thinking that makes the brain to improve its performance.

  • Includes spectators

If you have ever attended sports activities, definitely you will find many spectators. Like any other sports game, many people travel to various land-based casinos to cheer some poker games. Due to this feature, many people consider a poker game as a sporting activity.

Characteristics of gambling

On the other hand, below are some of the features of gambling. Those characteristics are;

  • Play of chance

Unlike sporting activities that involve skills to play, gambling is a game of chance. That means one is uncertain about the outcome. The only thing a person does is to place a bet and wait on the outcome. If the results favor your prediction, you win the money. Also, one does not have control over gambling. That is because the playing parties are the ones to determine the results of the activity.

  • Involves staking money for benefits

To win in sports games, you need to deploy the best skills. Therefore, using your playing skills will help you to win. But on the other hand, to make money on gambling, you need to stake your hard-earned money. Most of the people who gamble do it to make money.

Features of a poker game

Before ruling out, we need to discuss some of the features of the poker game. Those features help us to classify poker as a sports activity. Those features are

  • Involves skills

One of the characteristics that make poker game popular among popular sports games is that it requires some skills to play. Various resources can help you to learn more and master the best poker playing skills before playing. Playing without the skills will increase your chances of losing.

  • Played for fun

According to studies, many people play poker games when bored to have fun. Unlike the gambling activities that get played to make money, many people play poker for fun. Therefore, that makes us classify poker as a sports activity.

  • Has a set of rules

You must adhere to the set rules to play the poker game just like any other sports activity. For instance, if playing football, some conditions will make you lose or offer a penalty to the opponent, reducing your winning chances. Thus, by ignoring some rules, you will end up losing.

Final word

Therefore, we can confidently say that poker is a sports game and not a gambling activity by considering all the things discussed above. It involves some skills, played for entertainment, involves two or more competing parties, involves physical exertion, and many more sports features than gambling.


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