Every year, the best poker players in the world descend on Las Vegas in the United States for the World Series of Poker, where the best players are crowned by being presented with millions of dollars in prize money. And every year, the debate over whether or not poker is a sport continues to rage on, with people on each side of the argument pleading their case. We are here to settle the debate once and for all.
What heats up this debate is the fact that poker events are routinely televised on sports networks. During the World Series of Poker, it is next to impossible to flip on a major sports TV network without finding some sort of coverage of the event. This, of course, greatly upsets some viewers who do not see poker to be a real sport, and want those networks to get back to broadcasting the more traditional sports out there.
So who is right in this heated debate? Is it the fans of poker and the networks who put those poker events on their airwaves, or is it the people who decide to get upset about the presence of poker on sports networks and websites?
There is no denying that poker is one of the most difficult activities that someone can undertake. It requires a stone cold nerve, the ability to keep your emotions in check, and the discipline not to make wasteful decisions that can derail your ability to win the game and rake in that sweet prize money. In fact, it could be argued that poker requires more mental fortitude than most sports out there today.
Poker also requires endurance, although not in the same way that sports like football require it. Rather than requiring physical endurance, poker requires players to have mental endurance. Table sessions at poker tournaments can last for an eternity, and the lack of sleep can impact the decision making of players. Being able to push through that mental fatigue can be just as difficult as pushing through physical fatigue depending on how long one is required to do so. In this way, it can be argued that poker is in fact a sport.
The dictionary definition of sport, however, says differently. The official definition of sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. While poker definitely involves plenty of skill and competition, the definition of sport requires physical exertion to be a part of the equation for something to fall into that category. Unless you count keeping a straight face at all times to be physical exertion, there isn’t much physicality to be had in poker.
So there you have it, according to the dictionary definition of a sport, poker is not a sport. With that said, it is still a whole lot of fun to watch and play, and whether it is a sport or not should not matter in the grand scheme of things.