This is a common question in the gambling world and there seems to be no straight answer either. The big question is actually whether poker is a sport or a game. There are a number of characteristics that qualifies an activity to a sport. Here is a number of common features defining a sport and thus attempts to place poker;

  1. Use of physical energy

A sport game is characterized by use of physical energy. Poker however does not involve a lot of physical use although this is debatable since proponents of poker as a sport argue out that a star jump and bad seat fall while playing poker can amount to physical exercise.

Poker was however classified by the International Mind Sport Association as a ‘mind-sport’ in 2011, alongside others such as chess and cribbage. In this regard, poker qualifies as a sport, with the use of mental energy being the key consideration.

  1. Skill

Any sport require the acquisition of a certain set of skills and to this end, poker utilizes a strategy skill required by poker players which to proponents of poker qualifies poker to be identified as a sport. Other sports such as chess and backgammon in the category where poker falls use similar set of skills.  ESPN said this.

  1. Training

Like any other sports, poker players require a lot of training if one is to perfect their play and increase their poker earnings. Most dedicated poker players will argue out that they put in as much work as any other players in other sports. While on the other hand, critics of poker as a sport continue to argue that poker relies on luck and does not promote the aspect of fair competition among players.

  1. Following and fans

There is an argument that sports appeal to a wide audience and this contributes to its recognition and popularity among the fans. Different sports have avid followers who are either players or simply audiences. Like most other sports, poker’s popularity has been growing with some poker players playing professionally and with veteran players even mentoring other starters in the poker industry.

  1. Global presence and acceptance

According to SportAccord, for any activity to qualify to be a sport, it needs a global acceptance and recognition. See more on the homepage. Poker, although popular more in Europe, the UK, US and Australia, it has been gaining a growing acceptance in different parts of the globe especially in Africa and in the Asian states. There is a discontent in a number of countries when it comes to the integrity and ethics surrounding poker, thus still a number of states still bans poker or have strict rules regulating poker.

SportAccord  is in the process of promoting poker as a sport which should be included in the Olympic and non-Olympic sports competition. This is definitely a big milestone towards the recognition and acceptance of poker as a sport.


Whether poker is considered a sport or not, it depends on where you sit. If you have much respect for poker, then it would make sense for you to view it as a sport. On the other hand, if you are a critic of poker and other mind sports, then for you poker will remain a sort of a recreational hobby which should not merit for a sport.