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Will Poker Ever Be at the Olympics?

by Craig Edwards
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When I was competing in the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event, I thought to myself how poker should really be considered a sport.

The more I investigated it, the more resistance, there was on many levels, which I always found a shame. I believed poker did cross sporting boundaries despite being deemed a gambling game with luck attached.

So, it was a pleasant surprise when I read recently, how the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) has been making moves and is on a mission to bring a form of match poker to the Olympics in Paris next year. They are saying worst case scenario, that Los Angeles 2028 will have match poker included. However, it may not be the traditional poker tournament that we are used to when playing at most of the online poker sites.

Here at JoeWager, we analyze the pros and cons of whether Poker will ever be in the Olympics.

Pros – Why Should Poker Be in the Olympics

Long-term results in poker have historically seen the best players win more than the rest. That, naturally, means poker is a game of high skill, when in fact not only is poker a game of skill, but it is also a test of endurance and patience. Those factors are tested on numerous occasions during a game, and long-term winners have developed a huge resolve in dealing with all situations so that they prevail and win.

Sport is about competing, and poker has a huge footprint in society over many decades. That is because poker is recognized as a game of mental strength and adaptability to a variety of gameplay decisions. During those decades, poker has enjoyed several booms in popularity and is a global game. Being a global game must resonate well with the Olympic committee and enhance their chances.

Cons – Why Poker May Not Make the Olympics

The fact that poker’s roots are steeped in the gambling culture of casinos will always count against it. Many do not appreciate the amount of dedication that goes into being a winning poker player and opt for the easy worldview that it is a gambling game of pure chance.

That gambling real money aspect plays against the ideal, but poker tournaments have never seen money change hands at the table. Those tournaments are played for prize money, which is in keeping with many sports that we know of. Even sports like climbing have competitions where players pay entry fees, and they are paid out by the finishing position.

Others will point out poker’s lack of physicality and lack of exertion, which are bound to count against it, especially when compared to chess or bowling, which are both recognized sports that are not included in the Olympics either.

What Changes Does Poker Need to Make for Olympic Recognition?

The IFMP is aiming to bring a moderated game of poker to the Olympics. To do this, they must, firstly, remove the gambling element of poker.

Their solution is a game called “match poker” in which the players will be compared with others who are playing the same cards in the same situation.

This change to poker has meant the governing body of world sport has provisionally accepted “Match Poker” as a sport. The changes in how poker plays out show that the IFMP is serious about having poker admitted into the Olympics.

Joe Wager’s Conclusion

Here at JoeWager, we believe it would be great for Poker to make the Olympics and the IFMP are to be applauded in their attempts to achieve the goal.

The Los Angeles Olympics of 2028 would be the perfect starting point, with the game being steeped in American culture allowing a strong promotion of a new Olympic sport. That looks like a good idea to us on many levels given that the new format of “Match Poker” will need time beforehand to become tried and tested, so that the competitors and public alike understand the new format.

We found that Poker is a mentally and physically challenging game played over long periods and there is a need to educate the Olympic Committee further that luck only plays its part in the immediacy. Experienced players and winners can testify that long-term poker is not based on luck, this only happens in the short term. Just ask Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey!

If you fancy preparing for the chance of playing in the 2028 Olympics, have a look at Joe Wager’s recommended online poker sites.

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Craig Edwards
Craig Edwards, an online tipster in golf and snooker for over four years, boasts a track record of 7800 bets with a 28% return on investment. A snooker professional from 1988 to 1996, he was once a single-figure handicap golfer. Achieving the 282nd position in the WSOP MAIN EVENT in 2007, Craig possesses a unique insight into the psychological shifts of professional sportsmen, anticipating their mindset week by week.

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