Is Poker a Sport? Both Sides are Examined

Is poker a sport? This question has been debated for years. Some believe poker is a game of chance. Others think it requires strategy and skill like any other sport.

Let’s examine the evidence from both sides and try to find the answer to is poker a sport.

Is Poker a Sport? Or a Game? Why Poker Players are Athletes

Poker is either a game or a sport. Poker is a sport that requires both mental and physical ability to win at the highest level. Multi-tabling players must have good eye coordination. Physical strength is required to play live and online.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a highly rated event that continues to draw in viewers year after year. The game is exciting to watch because it offers the potential to win large sums of money.

Why Poker is a Sport and Its Players are Athletes

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a highly rated event that continues to draw in viewers year after year. The game is exciting to watch because it offers the potential to win large sums of money.

Another way to put it, a sport can be defined as an activity that is competitive and requires skill and physical ability to succeed.

Let’s start with the simple stuff and work our way up. 

1. Poker requires skill

This is an important distinction that many people don’t get. It is not surprising that poker players keep winning over time.

Skill is required to make profitable decisions.

Every decision you make in poker requires a decision. Every hand of poker requires you to make multiple decisions. The most important decision is to decide whether or not to play a hand.

Poker requires the ability to recognize whether a poker action has a positive expectation and will result in long-term financial success. This is the part most people struggle to grasp. It is that winning decisions can lose money while losing decisions can make money.

You will almost always make a profit if you play hundreds upon hundreds of winning decisions. The likelihood of losing a single game increases the more you make bad decisions.

An Analogy of Basketball Gambling

Let’s take, for instance, basketball. Sometimes a point guard will make a difficult pass across a lane during a breakaway and it will result in a layup. Sometimes the ball will be stolen or thrown out of bounds.

The player has chosen a calculated “gamble” that is based on the current situation. The decision to pass or not was based on which action would earn him the most points over the long term. He might opt to take the 16-foot shot if the risk of failing to pass was too high.

Basketball players can make better decisions throughout a game thanks to the experience and knowledge gained through practice. Poker is the same thing. Poker players can make more money by gaining knowledge and practicing.

They also avoid losing as much as possible.

This is how it works Skill Works for all sports, even poker.

2. Poker is played for entertainment

This one is simple. It is easy to see how fun poker can be. You will be hooked the first time you go all-in against another player and hit that miraculous river card.

Many people find the fun part about poker in solving the many puzzles. What hand could my opponent have Is he lying? Can I pull off an improbable bluff? These are just a few of thousands of possible decision points that could occur during a poker hand.

What if entertainment meant only fun to watch?

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a highly rated event that continues to draw in viewers year after year. The game is exciting to watch because it offers the potential to win large sums of money.

That’s why people watch so many sports on TV, I believe. Because they want to be champion golfers, they love to see pro golfers win. They might also enjoy watching the NBA 3-point contest because they dream of becoming a great shooter.

This phenomenon could be called entertainment by proxy because of the vicarious pleasure that comes from watching a sport. It’s entertaining to watch because it’s easy to imagine yourself doing it.

3. Poker is competitive

Poker is also a sport in the area of competitiveness. The entire definition of poker revolves around competitiveness. The essence of poker is to have one hand play against another hand to determine which hand is the winner.

The best poker players are not necessarily the best at playing their cards well. The players who can recognize the weaknesses of their opponents and devise a winning strategy are the ones who are the biggest winners.

In other words, competitiveness is what makes the best players.

4. Poker requires physical ability

There may be a lot of pushback on this one.

It seems that a lot of physical ability is required to sit at a poker desk for hours on end and play a mentally challenging “game”.

Poker is physically demanding

A poker player must spend hours “grinding” at a table to make money. They must also play when the weaker players are at the tables, regardless of whether it fits into their schedule. These often exhausting sessions can be both mentally and physically draining.

The truth is that a player’s physical condition is a major factor in how well he or she performs.

The average age at the World Series of Poker final tables is significantly younger than in other major poker tournaments. This is likely because younger players are often considered to be more aggressive and have a better understanding of modern poker strategies.

Younger people are more likely to be in good physical condition and have the mental and physical fortitude needed to play 12 hours a day. People in poor physical health are more likely to make huge mistakes that cost them their tournament lives.

Online Poker Requires Physical Dexterity

Online poker players are also important. There is more to the game than just clicking buttons with a few fingers and sitting in front of a computer.

Online poker requires that you play at least two tables per hour to maximize your win rate. This requires a high level of hand-eye coordination and physical dexterity. It also requires strong mind-body connections to minimize errors when playing 600, 1000, or sometimes 1500 hands per hour.

Long-term, players who are more physically fit will be more successful than those with similar abilities.

Some well-known sports require little or no physical effort

You’ve probably seen the out-of-shape players in American baseball. A former major league baseball player was asked by a reporter if he looked like an athlete. He replied, “I’m not an athletic player, I’m a player in baseball.”

But, have you ever seen anyone ask the question, “Is baseball a sport?” Because there are physical elements to the game.

What about golf? It takes physical ability to hit a golf ball. Even so, many large men win pro-golf tournaments. Think Craig Stadler and John Daly.

They have excellent timing and hand-eye coordination, just like online poker players.

If you take a moment, you can think of other sports that have players or positions where physical ability is not essential.

So what if Poker has Gambling?

All sports contain elements of gambling or just plain bald-faced gambling.

We have already discussed how decisions made during a poker game are similar to poker decisions. This is not what we are referring to but rather any sport with leagues that requires a buy-in.

Most Sports Require Up-Front Costs

Sports are games of skill. The biggest problem with how people view poker is their acceptance of people spending hundreds or thousands of dollars each year to play in tournaments such as golf, bowling, billiards, and football/soccer leagues. Meanwhile, they are skeptical of people who buy into poker tournaments.

Isn’t it just placing a wager on yourself, regardless of the sport you are betting on? Is there a prize for winning these tournaments or leagues, regardless of the sport? 

What about other casino games?

It is not a sport if the game is against the house or isn’t able to be beaten, regardless of how skilled. It is considered a sport if the game is played against other players, and skill is involved and is not just luck.

Why is all this important?

Poker has a negative connotation due to its gambling elements. People believe that poker is gambling because it is usually played in a casino and with cards. It is a fun and skill-based game that should be celebrated and not dismissed.


Is poker a sport? This is a difficult question to answer. While some people believe that poker is purely based on chance, others think that it requires skill and strategy like any other sport.

Ultimately, whether or not you consider poker to be a sport is up to you. However, there can be no doubt that poker is an exciting and challenging game that tests your skills and mental toughness. If you’re looking for an enjoyable way to get your heart rate up and test your skills, play poker!