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The Reason Poker Isn't a Sport
By Loki Luchs of

Unlike many other poker players, I disagree that poker is a sportů certainly it is a competition between sides, and it absolutely is a game that the better player wins the majority of the time, but there are aspects of the game that make it more malleable than a professional sport. One can even argue that the physical prowess of an athlete is no different than the mental or creative prowess of a poker player. However, in sports players must play regardless of how they're feeling, whether they're hurt, or if they're having a good day. This isn't the same with poker. A good player makes decisions of when he's going to be in the best shape to play, and this concept alone sets the two things apart.

Without a doubt, being a winning poker player starts at home; seemingly little decisions compile into large advantages and disadvantages hours or even days after you make them. There are times when you need to analyze all of the factors of the game to decide if the time is right to play.

For days at a time I might calculate the time of day that I will have the best overall advantage on an opponent. When will the table be at its weakest while I will be at my best? Sometimes this will be late at night after a big convention has been in town. If the rodeo or nascar is in town, stupid cowboys will be drunk and looking to throw their money around the poker tables; however, if the AVN (basically the pornstar convention) or the Miss America convention are in town, then the people that are in town won't be going to the poker tables when they're done. They've got different interests than gambling, so I won't be looking at large amounts of action at the table.

One of the best times to play is during big sporting events. Many sports bettors will wager thousands of dollars on major games, and in order to better pass the time, they fill in the hours with poker. However, the amount of money that they are gambling with at the table is only a fraction of what they have riding on the game. Their priorities are to win the sports games, not the poker games!

They will make loose calls, play recklessly and be riddled with tells because they're distracted by what they consider to be more important. Ironically, as you all know, a bettor has no control over the games they're watching! They do have control over the poker they're playing! Whether a player is winning or losing, they will almost always focus on the television, instead of the other players at the table.

The only major exception to this is when a player's team is a run-away victory. It's the only time that the gambler will feel secure in his team's (his bets) win. So long as the point spread is within two touchdowns of an upset, they'll keep an eye on their investiment.

As I write this, I'm eagerly awaiting the Vikings and Saints 2010 NFC Championship game. Unlike the Colts/Jets game, there is a large degree of discrepency on who will win the AFC championship. Both teams, on their best day, could beat their opponents on an average day. Wouldn't the game change if Favre or Brees could control the conditions in which they played? What if Favre could make the weather 15 degrees? What if Brees could decide to make the Vikings play at 3:00 am? What if Brett could push the game back because he got the flu? Or what if Brees could reschedule the game because his wife and he got into a fight? Small things like this could be the difference between which one of them takes home the 2010 ring. In poker, when you're not on you're "A" game, you should probably hold off on playing.

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