Poker is considered the most popular casino game at land-based establishments today. The game has appeared since the early 19th century in the US and has attracted a large number of gamblers. Throughout its development, poker has always been controversial among both players and gambling professionals as to whether it should be considered a "game" or a "sport." Of course, poker is undoubtedly a game, and the fact that someone calls it a sport may cause some people to disagree. 

Today's article will show you most clearly whether poker can be legitimately considered a sport and how to play poker safely without breaking your finances. 

Is Poker A Sport?

Is Poker a Sport?

To see if poker is a sport, let's start with the very definition of the word "sport." According to the Oxford dictionary, a "sport" means "an activity involving physical effort and skill in which an individual or team competes with one or others for recreation." So, in the case of poker, it fully satisfies the condition of "individual competition." We can see thousands of poker players competing with each other on the tables every day intensely for some or all of the money on the table.

So, what about the "entertainment" part? This game may not bring comfort to the insiders, as it is directly related to money. However, for the audience, either live or via TV, it is certainly a pleasure to watch top players compete with each other with all their acting ability, intelligence, and determination.

The other two important factors that the Oxford dictionary mentions related to the definition of a sport are physical factors and skill. Of course, you need to be skilled, sometimes very skilled, to be able to beat other players at the poker table. However, physical issues can be controversial for some people. 

In the opinion and experience of our experts, poker requires a physical element from the player; it's just not as apparent as in other sports. For example, if you participate in an extended poker session, you will know that the game requires physical effort, alertness, stamina, and general fitness. Physical weakness can lead to bad decisions at critical moments, which directly affect your bonus. Therefore, we believe that to become a mid-level poker player, let alone a pro, you always need to work on your fitness. 

All of the above arguments indicate that poker fully qualifies to be recognized as a sport. 

Also, if you wonder if the rest of the casino games are considered sports, the simple answer is no. The reason is obvious: in other casino games, your opponent is not another team or individual but the casino operator. Thus, they cannot fulfill the prerequisite of a sport, which is competition between individuals or teams. 

What Are the Similarities Between Poker and Sports Betting? 

What Are the Similarities Between Poker and Sports Betting? 

These two issues seem unrelated. But in fact, they share one remarkable thing in common: they can provide more chances to earn extra money for top players. In other words, you can make a living off of both. However, that is not true for everyone. 

For example, professional poker players, or in other words, those who are able to make a living from poker comfortably, tend to have other sources of income outside of this game. Although their poker income is often very large compared to the average standard of living, according to the researchers, these players often do not depend much on poker for a steady source of income.

As another example, amateur players who claim they can make 100% of their living from poker tend to have a hard time paying the bills. The reason is very clear: this game is considered a chance, and it cannot always be a steady source of income. So everything is relative. 

While I am not confident that the above two examples are representative of all poker players, we are sure of one thing, most of the world's poker players report a net loss over time when participating in poker. More specifically, statistics show that more than 90% of poker players will suffer losses in the long run. Our other argument also supports that, when on a poker table, the winnings are usually only for 1 or 2 people. It's very rare that all players drop their cards after a few minutes, and everyone gets their bet back. Therefore, it is always about a small group winning a huge amount of prize money pooled by a larger group. 

For sports betting, statistics are never enough for us to calculate the same data. Even so, we can guarantee that the number of people who can generate a steady income from sports betting is extremely rare, even less than poker. The reason is simple: in poker, players can discard and limit their losses if they decide that the situation at the table is not in their favor; However, sports bettors do not have that opportunity. The outcome of the bet depends on the result of a sports match, and there is no way for the bettors to make the situation more favorable for them.  

However, regardless of whether a professional gambler has chosen poker or sports betting as their expertise, one thing remains constant: they look for an advantage, some form of an edge over the house or their competitors, and they strike when they find one. This advantage is how the professional gambler quickly distinguishes himself from most gamblers who lose money over time.

Poker vs. Sports Betting – Which is Better for Making Money

As we have analyzed above, if you are a casual player and only approach poker and sports betting for entertainment purposes, you will most likely suffer a loss of money participating in them in the long run, regardless of the rare resounding wins you may have. If you think about it more broadly, it's completely acceptable that it works the same way you would choose other forms of entertainment, which is to spend money to satisfy your personal interests. In the case of these two areas, you have spent money to enjoy the thrill. 

So even though statistics may say that poker is a safer game than sports betting, you will still lose more or less by participating in them, unless you are in the paltry 5% the player who has a super-high skill, super predictability, and can make a stable living through several fields of both. Remember, sports matches and poker table cards all share one thing in common, which is their randomness and unpredictability.  

If you want to achieve long-term gains in any sector, you must correctly manage your bankroll and keep it high enough to survive waves of losses. In other words, bet the amount that you can lose. If you want to know how to manage your bank account effectively, check out our How to Gamble Safely article. The article will provide detailed instructions to gamble in a healthy way and stay away from its harm. 

What's an Acceptable Return on Investment?

We will get a bit academic when we analyze the economic benefits of poker and sports betting. First, let's get acquainted with the ROI metric commonly used in the financial world.

Return on investment (ROI) is a performance metric that is used to assess the efficiency or profitability of an investment or to compare the efficiency of many projects. ROI attempts to directly assess the amount of return on a certain investment in relation to the cost of the investment.

The benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment to compute ROI. The outcome is given as a percentage or a ratio.

The formula for calculating ROI is described as follows: 

ROI  = (Current Value of Investment - Cost of InvestmentCost of Investment)/Cost of Investment

​Simpler, ROI is created by dividing the net profit by the total amount invested. For example, let's say that after a month of playing poker and investing a total of $500, you get a net profit of $50. In that case, ROI will be 10% (50/500). 

​So, what does this stat mean to players? Statistics show that professional poker players are always aware of what their current ROI is, and the benchmark for the best poker players in the world ranges from 25% to 35%.

While that number doesn't sound very impressive for people making millions of dollars overnight with just a few thousand dollars of investment, for other businesses, in general, the number is dreamy. The estimate that top entrepreneurs aim for is always between 5% and 15%. And that is also the target number that we recommend you aim for. Don't be too impatient to look for giant wins. Instead, take each step firmly and always keep your ROI in check, so you know what to do next.

If the ROI statistics show you are having a great month, you can think about increasing your bet size on upcoming plays. On the contrary, if the ROI says you are losing money, you can consider playing with less money or taking a break to rebalance your monetary funds.    

While ROI is a professional way to gauge your playing performance, please don't take it too seriously. Anyway, if you are not a professional, then making money is not the end goal when you come to poker or sports betting. These two fields in themselves have given you a certain sense of entertainment, regardless of whether you win or lose. The most important thing that you should pay attention to, instead, is to not let the losses go too far and enjoy the inherent entertainment of these two areas.


Poker and sports betting are both forms of entertainment that attract many players. However, only a very few players are able to generate a steady income from them. If you are not one of them, control your finances through ROI or simply stop when you feel you have lost too much. 

Published: 15 June 2022 02:49