Poker: Sport or Not?

Pro Poker layers generally receive stipends rather than contracts
Pro Poker layers generally receive stipends rather than contracts

There are many attributes that makes up a sport. The running, the jumping, the skill shots, the technique, and the ability to make millions and millions fans distinguish an athlete by their stellar capability to perform. In basketball, you have Michael Jordan. In baseball, you have Ichiro Suzuki. In football, you have Tom Brady (who actually sucks). Golf has Tiger Woods and Tennis has Roger Federer. And in professional poker you have… wait.

Is poker even a sport?

According to ESPN, yes it is. Because ESPN is the sports guru organization of the world, let’s pretend that they are correct. Then again, this is the organization that does not recognize non-cage martial arts as a sport.

As a sport, poker can be very brutal. Imagine navigating your entire overweight body and your ten gallon hat around a community center sized playing field while trying to avoid colliding with the barmaids, smoking stations, and trophy wives just to get from table to table. And you need to keep up a winning attitude at all times. You need to act like the slimiest mother -canucker because the poker world will eat up the soft hearted and spit them out like broccoli.

Like gladiators going into battle, poker players need to train well and eat well. Training includes logging thousands of hours on online poker sites, trying to beat the Russian guy hosting the server and probably can look at everyone’s cards anyways. Poker players also need to take in only ten thousand calories a day. Their diet usually includes roast beef, steak, pork chops, Bordeaux, Champagne, Chardonnay, and might they dare some Chateau Mont-Redon? After all, it takes a lot of muscle power not to laugh inappropriately at your opponents’ stupid fur coats that makes them look like Cruela de Vil.

But as a sport, poker takes a tremendous amount of finesse to win. After all, losing a round can mean losing millions of dollars. There is no such thing as the perfect bluff because by the time you get accustomed to your bluff face, someone else has too and will probably call you on your bluff. The art of bluffing is ever changing so players need to constantly reevaluate their strategy both midgame and postgame.

Knowing how to bluff and knowing how much money to call onto the table to discourage the opposition are just a few techniques professional pokers need to learn. There is also no “how-to-do,” internet guides unlike football or basketball because poker is a game of instinct. Professional poker players take their game very seriously even if the rest of the country does not because, well, darn, it could be a very efficient way to get rich quick.

The idea of a national poker league did surface a few years ago but the recession managed to kill that idea. ESPN still hosts poker tournaments live on television but the concept of poker teams competing with one another has yet to make its debut. Recently, pro player Anne Duke was named the new commissioner of an emerging nameless league that focuses on team poker. Although not much is known about the league, they did comment on going national and becoming the PGA of poker leagues in America. Are we seeing the formation of an NPL, National Poker League? With proposed names like Pittsburg Stealers and Dallas Kowboys, an NPL could revolutionize modern sports entertainment.