“I’m fat and I want my kids to believe that I do sports. So, yes, poker is sports!”
A humorous answer by the Cash Game Festival’s co-founder Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk, simply known as Franke, to the question posed in the title of this article. His quote pretty much sums up the opinion of many dedicated players that the game, indeed, should be seen as sport. Most likely, many of you have had heated discussions on the matter with your friends or cash game mates. But before we give you our take on the topic, let’s go back to the basics and define the terms “sport” and “poker”.
Oxforddictionaries.com gives us the most basic and well known definition of the word “sport”. It is described “as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” It is clear form the traditional definition that for something to be seen as sport, the activity must involve a set of skilled physical movements.
Wikipedia defines poker as “a family of card games that combines betting, strategy, and skill”. It is evident from the description that the card game requires a significant amount of mental exertion.
In both definitions, we find several common elements. So, what are they? In order to be successful in either, one has to have a certain set of skills. With the given set of skills, people compete against each other in order to achieve desired results, and the ones with the best strategy win. Moreover, both of these activities are mainly done for entertainment – it is entertaining for participants and spectators alike. Sports and poker also require discipline because, without it, one cannot improve. Last but not the least, a bit of luck is needed in both.
So, the biggest difference between poker and sports is the degree of physical and mental effort needed in order to achieve the goal of winning. Technically, despite having many elements in common, we could never call poker sport for its lack of physical elements. Then why even try and mix the two? Poker can be in included in its own criteria called mind sport, like chess, for example.
Instead of trying to get poker on a par with, say, football, let’s agree that poker is an intellectual card play that deserves to be recognized as a mind sport. Wouldn’t that be nice? Indeed, there have been such positive developments. In year 2010, the International Federation of Poker (IFP) accomplished a major goal when poker was officially accepted as a “mind sport” by the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA). Excellent!
“I am delighted to welcome the International Federation of Poker into membership of IMSA,” said IMSA President Jose Damiani. “Poker’s participation alongside bridge, chess and other mind sports in the annual IMSA events will demonstrate to the world that poker is indeed a mind sport of strategic skill.” It can only get better now that this milestone has been reached.
To make it a little more fun for the readers, we have asked for some quotes from two persons whom many of you have met during the Cash Game Festival live events. Here’s the opinion of our Project Manager Andro Loos: “Is Poker Sports! HELL YES! I think the game has grown so much and it really takes a skill to be a winning player. Professional poker players are living the same as whatever professional pro athlete are, they put a lot of hours into it. I met a player from Spain who said, learning poker is one thing but also to be successful in it you need to eat healthy, do fitness etc. So, my answer is 100% YES for someone who asks is Poker a Sport.”
There is another opinion from a poker pro and Betsafe’s Ambassador Monika Zukowicz, also known as HeyMonia. She likes to call herself an athlete because she takes her game seriously. And we have absolutely nothing against calling her an athlete, an awesome mind athlete, to be precise. Presenting you a quote from Monika: “So, the thing that makes poker similar to sport is def the discipline and the competition factor! In both areas, if you want to achieve something, you have to be consistent, dedicated and super disciplined on a daily basis. Poker is also competitive and most of the time you are competing with yourself (the same as in individual sports).” Very well said, guys!
In conclusion, let’s be happy that our beloved poker has gained the recognition as a mind sport requiring strategy and skill. In the meanwhile, let’s just enjoy the game for what it has to offer – fun, excitement and MORE FUN!
-Cash Game Festival Team
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