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Bleacher Report Says Poker Is Not A Sport

Author Argues That Physical Activity Is Necessary


Over the weekend, The Bleacher Report, an online publication with an alternative reporting view of the sporting world, published an op-ed piece from author Todd Pheifer, titled Poker Is Not a Sport… Even If It Is Broadcast on a Sports Network.

The story focuses on the most recent broadcast of the 2012 World Series of Poker main event final table, which according to Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times, makes for better entertainment than baseball’s World Series.

The author points out that even though it is broadcast on ESPN, poker falls more into the entertainment aspect of the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. In the past, ESPN has broadcast chess, darts, Scrabble and even the National Spelling Bee.

Pheifer goes on to concede that poker requires a great deal of intelligence and emotional control, and recognizes that quality in other sports, stating that “there are clearly mental aspects to sports, and some of the biggest stars have been people who are cerebral thinkers as well as physically gifted.”

However, he also believes that “sport should at least require a minimum amount of physical talent or skill” and that “poker is not exactly a grueling physical activity.”

The topic of whether poker qualifies as a sport or not has been debated by those in the poker community for decades and even in the mainstream media in the years following the Moneymaker Boom of 2003.

Publications such as the USA Today, Page 2, Yahoo, and even ESPN have tackled the subject without a clear answer. There has even been a push for poker to be accepted as an medal event by the International Olympic Committee.

So far, the Bleacher Report’s online poll question has roughly 62 percent of voters agreeing with the author that poker is not a sport. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.



5 years ago

Then Mr Pheifer should spend days on end in the main event and see if it isn't grueling. Both mentally and physically! Sheesh...


5 years ago

This has been a debate for as long as I have been playing POKER. I am a 29 year old young man not exactly Mr. expeirenced but I have played millions of hands online since the early 2000's i have been Playing Poker ONLINE & live. I also Played Baseball in College & 3 sports in High School. I dont think these aspects make me an Expert but I do know that Poker is not a SPORT!!! Its a Game of skill & competition. But I also dont think Nascar is a Sport so what do I know!!!!!


5 years ago

I think it depends, if it's the WSOP and you make a fairly decent run where you have to play several days in a row at 10 or 12 hours a day then it's a sport, but if you're playing a 4 or 5 hour home game with your buddies then it's just recreation. Same go's for bowling, league bowling is'nt exactly a sport but a professional tournament where you might have to bowl 50 games to make the tv finals is 100% a sport! ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, but even if you dont think games like poker, darts, bowling, pool ect are sports i think everyone agree's there's plenty of skill in all!


5 years ago

I think you can make a case for it both ways. Does poker have strenuous physical activity, not really. However, there is a physical component involved in poker which is masking physical tells. You do need to maintain a certain composure over long periods of time and that is hard to do! Poker is a sport in every other way, especially tournament poker. I think if Chess is a sport then Poker should be one also.

"The International Olympic Committee (through ARISF) recognises both chess and bridge as bona fide sports, ..."



5 years ago

Why is this even a topic for debate? Poker is clearly not a "sport". A sport implies some kind of physical skill or athletic ability required to succeed against your competition.

The fattest, most unfit, unhealthy, even physically challenged individual can square off and win against anybody else in poker, that should be proof enough that poker is not a "sport".

And some will say "but poker requires a lot of stamina and endurance", well so does a 12-hour open-heart surgery or liver transplant, but the surgeon is hardly considered to be participating in a sport.

Poker is a "game of skill", not a sport. Some jurisdictions, like former USSR countries, tried classifying poker as a sport in order to be able to hold poker tournaments on their soil without breaking gambling regulations. I'm not even sure why people care if it is considered a "sport".


5 years ago

12hr days of mainly sitting without losing concentration if that doesn't require some ability then any average joe can become a poker pro.


5 years ago

More than enough parallels between poker and many bona fide sports that it rates such consideration in certain respects...I think the part about poker being a medal sport in the Olympics is certainly a stretch but I don't think it would be completely ludicrous for someone to at least partially (and I emphasize PARTIALLY) concur with the idea.