Is poker a sport or is it just gambling? Sure, it might look like a game of luck like blackjack or roulette to anyone who doesn't know the rules. They might be near to each other in a casino, but poker is in a league of its own. Still, sports usually involve movement and physicality, but what about games where the skill is purely mental?

Nowadays, poker is an officially recognized mind sport, just like chess, Mahjong, bridge, and checkers.

Here’s how the great game of poker has become a mind sport.

A dealer counts chips at a WPT event

Player and writer Anthony Holden is president of the Internation Poker Federation. His organization played a large role in promoting poker as a mind sport, betting on the game being recognized before long.

In 2010, the International Mind Sports Association made the call, officially accepting poker as a mind sport. Anthony said this after the milestone decision: “Over time, this should help to free poker from much governmental interference and other such unnecessary restrictions all over the globe”.

Doyle Brunson has been around since the beginning of poker

Doyle Brunson himself thanked the International Poker Federation and called it a “key moment for poker”. Doyle Brunson’s key moment was when Doyle’s Room, an online poker site, was acquired by Americas Cardroom in 2011.

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Americas Cardroom is a popular poker room with over twenty years of history. Since 2011, it has been part of the Winning network, known for its soft fields with americans and canadians.

Since 1997, the Mind Sports Organisation (MSO) has been hosting and promoting the Mind Sports Olympiad. This sports league has poker, chess, backgammon, and dozens of other games.

Long before you could play poker on an iPhone or enter WSOP events, humans have been playing mind sports. Mancala is a strategic board game with small tokens, where the aim is to move the tokens around the board and into your basin through careful planning. This game may be as old as 6000 B.C.E., making it one of the earliest mind sports.

There’s a big difference between a Mind Sports Olympiad event and a live poker event

Here’s what defines a mind sport:

  • The game has an element of competition
  • Luck is not relied upon, though it can be an element of the game
  • Player interaction is not a safety risk or health hazard
  • No living creature is harmed by playing the game
  • The equipment doesn’t come from a single source
Какой вид покера предпочитаешь?

A game like poker ticks all of these boxes. While there is an element of luck, the game does not rely on it. Players rely on probability, which is much more reliable than hoping for some luck. If you go all-in with two aces and your opponent has two 3s, sometimes they will “get lucky”, but the probability will usually give us the result we expect.

You might even say there’s no luck at all, just probabilities at work.

There’s a 100% chance of getting a bonus at 888poker, without even depositing. They’ve got $88 waiting for eligible new players (just for signing up), plus other bonuses to collect with your first deposit. Whatever style of poker you love, they’ve got it. Texas hold ‘em and Omaha are the most popular, with regular cash games or fast-folding SNAP poker for both. They have some popular multi-table tournaments too, with freerolls almost every hour.

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4.7
888poker is one of the oldest rooms of modern online poker, founded in 2002. Known for regular freerolls, a large selection of mid-low stakes games and it's SuperStorm and XL tournament series.

Poker, chess, and other mind sports aren’t going to be on TV after Olympic Games the 100-meter dash. Instead, there’s something called the Mind Sports Olympiad, an annual competition dedicated to games of mental skill. They’ve been holding events since 1997, with games like poker, Chinese chess, bridge, and backgammon. The poker events use different formats, not just Texas hold ‘em.

The Mind Sports Olympiad calls PokerStars their “poker host”, which is fitting since they are one of the leading poker sites. They’ve got a trusted reputation after more than two decades of hosting online games.

PokerStars is a sponsor of the European Poker Tour, the UK Poker Tour, and the Ireland Poker Tour, among many others. They’ve got a super wide selection of games on their site, with Texas hold ‘em, Omaha, plus over a dozen other formats. Check out their $30 Freeplay Bonus, plus the other rewards they offer players, in our PokerStars review.

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PokerStars starting out holding online poker games back in 2001 and now the company is worth over 6 billion dollars. They sponsor a slew of tournaments like the European Poker Tour, UK and Ireland Poker Tour, plus a handful of others. Over the years, PokerStars has remained on top of the online poker industry. They’ve expanded to offer fantastic online casino games and sports betting.

Poker is one of the most popular mind sports, but chess might be in the lead for now. Poker has only been in the spotlight for a couple of decades, while chess has almost 1500 years of heritage.

The World Poker Tour estimates that more than 100 million players worldwide, just at ‌online tables. Around 60 million of those are in the United States. On the other hand, Chess.com has a staggering 100 million players and that’s just for a single website. There are an estimated 800 million chess players around the world.

GGPoker has a very gamified software

GGPoker has the highest traffic of all online poker rooms, with an average of 8000+ users online. They opened their digital doors in 2014, acquiring licenses around the world. The GGPoker ambassadors are legends Daniel Negreanu and Elky, two long-standing figures in the poker world. The site has some of the best software, with lots of features for player interaction. If you want to get started playing real money (or free play) poker, GGPoker is the place to do it.

BetOnline

4.5

Bitcoin and US-friendly room that allows HUDs

Americas Cardroom

4.2

Long-running room with lively cash games and eight-figure MTTs

Partypoker

4.9

Daily cash races, MTTs and Spins with big prizes

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