Poker: Sport or Not...It's Not Easy

Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2008

I have read the articles and heard the arguments.  Is poker a sport? 

Some say it isn't.  Some say it is.  I say, why does it matter?  Because it is on ESPN?  A lot of people think it is boring to watch.  I think it is boring to watch hockey, tennis, and soccer on TV.  That doesn't mean I think they are not sports.

Now, so you can judge my character and decide that I am writing this from a very bias opinion, I will tell you a bit about me.  I am an avid poker player.  I have played professionally on-line, and over the last five years I have made a substantial amount playing.  It paid my bills while I was in college, bought my first big screen TV, helped me buy a 2004 Chevrolet in 2005, and I credit poker with saving my life.

On the other hand, I am not going to sit here and say that poker is a sport.  I personally do not care.  

I played traditional sports.  I broke every finger, tore every ligament in my left elbow and dislocated my right shoulder, all in football.  I developed a knee condition that was contributed to me growing too fast mixed with running up and down a hardwood floor.  I pulled my groin, twisted ankles, and have scars from summertime fun on the baseball field.

I trained three hours a day from the time I started sports in sixth grade, with no breaks, until I was 18.  I made college teams in baseball, and if I would have continued football, I would have had a great shot their too.

Someone once told me that poker was for bums, guys that can't get girls, and fat guys.  If I must say, I think these all go hand-in-hand.  This is most definitely true.  I won't argue this.  The majority of all players fit in to this category. 

Here is where the catch is though.  These are the same guys that lose at the table.  I will tell you one thing, if you are a winning player, you can pick up chicks whether you are fat or not.  If you don't believe me, go visit Vegas sometime. 

The small percentage of players that win do a lot of things the same way athletes do.  Good players do physically train.  The game is to be studied the same as a playbook or pitching assignments.  It's players that do these things that actually excel in poker.

I have done two-a-days, ran suicides, been hit with a 90 mph fast ball in the head, and I have gone on 48 hour shifts at the poker table.  I personally don't rank one of these things any harder or more physically demanding than the other. 

Poker on the other hand, is a mental grind.  It will tear you down, stress you out, and does everything it can to rip your heart out.  Most players don't know what this is about, because they are just "gambling."  The people that are in it to win possess the skills and study the game, they endure the stress and pain that goes along with playing poker competitively.