By: Queen of Hearts Paris
Returning to the question of whether poker should be considered a game or a sport, it’s probably a good idea to check out accepted definitions of the two words.
According to the dictionary, the word Game means a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators (which leaves the game of Solitaire, for example, out in the cold).
The same dictionary defines the word Sport as a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other, often for spectators (which, of course, doesn’t do a lot for the lone hunter or hiker who undoubtedly believe they are also involved in a sport).
Notwithstanding my quibble with the number of people involved, it’s pretty difficult to distinguish between the two definitions, with the major exception being the word physical.
No matter how physical one gets pushing a huge pile of chips into the middle of the poker table and/or pulling them in to sit in stacks in front of you, no matter how much you exert yourself shuffling and dealing cards, it’s a stretch to consider that physical activity.
In fact, the question might never have come up except for two facts. One is that ESPN and the Fox Sports Network cover poker regularly, certainly giving it the aura of sport. And two, the pressure in a major poker tournament is intense, the stakes are unbelievably high, players rake in millions and the last one standing is deemed the champion. Like most big-time sports.
Fortunately for anyone who finds all this confusing and/or irrelevant, the issue has actually been decided, at least in some circles.
In 2011, poker was officially accepted by the International Mind Sports Association at the organization’s congress held in Dubai, UAE. It is now considered a mind sport, meaning it requires skills that go way beyond luck, like chess or bridge.
So you can call poker a game, a sport or a mind sport and continue to enjoy playing it or watching it on TV or at a poker tournament. Just don’t call it gambling and you’ll stay out of trouble.