In the past few years, the popularity of poker has increased tremendously, even prompting the airing of tournaments on television. This surge in interest has raised the question of whether poker can really be considered a sport. No matter what definition of the word sport you accept, one thing remains constant: a sport is a physical activity that requires skill.
The lack of a physical element to poker playing is probably the biggest reason why there is a debate about the validity of poker as a sport. Sure, it does require long lengths of time in a chair, an ability to control facial muscles to achieve the perfect “poker face”, and the strength to push a pile of chips into the center of the table, but it doesn’t compare to other sports. Despite this lack of a physical element, poker does fit the rest of the components of a true sport classification.
Played under a distinct set of rules, poker players must possess a certain level of skill in order to be successful. Other common sports requires individuals to have a sense of strength, agility and stamina, whereas poker depends on players having intuition, deception, and intelligence with each hand.
Also, poker games result in one distinct winner and therefore have a level of competitiveness that is similar to more traditional sports. As far as televised sports are concerned, most people tune into them not for the feats of strength so much as the competitiveness behind the overall game. Poker definitely fits this characterization of a sport. Poker offers a sense of rivalry among players that make the game an interesting spectacle to watch. With the ultimate prize being money, poker sets up an end that all players want to achieve, thus the antagonist style of poker is similar to more classic sports like football or baseball.
In the context of other sports, one must place poker in a category with golf and bowling. There is no question about the validity of the latter as sports, yet the physical elements isn’t far from that of poker. Bowling and golf both require a high level of skill, also similar to poker. When placed in this context, it’s hard to dispute the notion that poker is a true sport.
In the end though, most players, whether professional or amateur, aren’t too concerned with receiving an official label. With the ability to win healthy amounts of money, poker will remain a favorite competition among viewers and players alike.
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