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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Poker's Place in Sports World Well Deserved

14 January 2009

Is poker a game or a sport? Even television is confused. The World Series of Poker is a widely viewed component of ESPN programming, yet High Stakes Poker and the World Poker Tour can be seen on GSN, a.k.a. The Network for Games.

The definition of sports competition implies physical dexterity, which would exclude poker players. Yet, the combination of skill, strategy, competitive spirit, and cerebral input it takes to play the game successfully just may place poker in a sporting category all its own.

Surely there are qualities about tournament poker that are unlike any competition in which you can be involved. The object is to eliminate and win. It's an endeavor tat engages participants mentally and physically, when you take into account marathon playing sessions over the course of a number of days, even weeks.

The famous quote widely attributed to NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing", may be one quality that separates poker from traditional sports.

Ultimately, winning a poker tournament is the only thing, but along the way there has to be some losing to set the stage for the outcome.

Every hand that makes up a poker game or a tournament is a competition all its own with a beginning and an end. There are winners and there are losers.

It's the combination of those decisions which determine the ultimate decision, but because there are so many strategic layers involved in getting there, the correlation of poker to sports gets complicated.

The mechanics of the game create the tempo for the playing experience. The subtleties which revolve around timing and decision making are what give it life as a sport.

In tournament poker, just as in team or individual sports competition, success seems to feed on success, or better yet, a position of strength.

The bigger stacks of chips, the more daring you can be and the more gambles you can take. The damage created by mistakes is minimized by the cushion you enjoy over your opponents.

Conservative play, or playing with "scared stakes", dilutes the disciplined, tactical behavior that is required to succeed consistently under tournament conditions. One mistake can spell defeat.

Failure in poker feeds on impulsiveness and desperation. When you are compelled to gamble big on one hand to get back in the game, hoping that luck will be on your side instead of relying on skill and strategy, you set yourself up for defeat.

The general consensus of opinion among poker experts is that the biggest mistake players make is playing too many hands.

Waiting for the opportune moments and then striking while the iron is hot gives credence to the genuine philosophy behind winning poker: Patience… plus some nerves of steel!

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp