A poker game is similar to the Olympics in many ways. They both take a lot of skill, people train for years to get to the top, and they are both extremely intense to be involved in.
Poker is popular with people from all walks of life, including Barak Obama who first joined the league of presidents to play a hand or two in the game when he was a young, bright eyed US Senator.
The none athletic Olympics
There is, of course, the argument that Olympians train for many years and are in peak physical fitness. Poker involves many hours stationary, and often there is a fair bit of drinking and eating that take place during the events.
Maybe it is true that as an Olympic sport, playing a poker game is not the most active or energetic, or an event that you have to get up at the crack of dawn to train for.
The rules of poker are complex and, although some people can’t agree as to if it is a game of luck or a game of skill, there is no doubt about the popularity and the sheer amount of training that goes into each match.
A sport for the modern day?
The UK and other European countries may not see poker in the same way, but in both Brazil and China poker is recognised as a sport and not a game.
This is especially apt seeing as the 2016 Olympic Games are being held in Brazil – there really has never been a better time to get the game on the list of registered and competed sports.
It is the physical endurance that poker has on your mind and body, as well as the intense training and the obvious required skill that means poker players have fought for years to get the game classified as a proper sport.
Poker author Nolan Dalla: “I have just two words for anyone opposed to poker as an Olympic sport. Those two words are: synchronized swimming. Seriously, has anyone ever met a curler, or a kayaker, or a synchronized swimmer? Isn’t there some gold-medal event where the object is to ski across an open field and then blast a rifle? These are really sports? Shouldn’t the Olympics be about sports played in, you know, this century? Shouldn’t the Olympics offer games actually played by real people? There are 200 to 300 million poker players worldwide. I say scratch these preposterous so-called sports, and introduce far more popular games which are played by real people, such as poker.”
There is no question that poker strategy takes a huge amount of discipline, and a lot of faith. You need to make sure that you make quick decisions and snap judgements, all the time not showing any reaction at all from your face.
Often, when playing in poker tournaments, you can be playing endlessly for hours and hours. The hard work that goes into a difficult poker game cannot be questioned.
Andy Bloch, a popular Las Vegas based professional poker player, commented, “If golf is a sport, then poker is a sport! I’m not completely serious, but Full Tilt Poker was behind an effort in 2004 to get poker classified as a sport. I think there should be an Olympics for games people don’t call sports. It would be nice to see the game recognized that way.”
And he does seem to have a point. It has been ten years now since the idea of poker at the Olympics first burst onto our scenes, and there seems to be little progress.
The rules of poker are many and poker games can be intense, but the main points are similar to the Olympics.
They have sports like archery and golf – even darts is set to make a possible appearance in the 2024 Olympic Games.
And poker may not be the most arduous or exhausting sport – it sure isn’t a marathon – but it is an important aspect of a lot of people’s lives. And the training that the players go to, be it mental or physical, should be recognised properly at last.
Do you think poker has a place in the Olympics? Let us know in the comments below.
Nolan Dalla – http://www.nolandalla.com
Andy Block – https://twitter.com/Andy_Bloch