While it’s hard to believe there are many similarities between football and poker, the two sports have more in common than you think. The likes of Omaha hi-lo and Texas Holdem might not be as physically demanding as football, but they are intense mental challenges that require advanced strategy and competitive nature.
It is for this reason that some of the biggest sports stars in the world such as Teddy Sheringham, Michael Owen, Neymar Jr, and Jan Van Sorenson, play a hand or more in their spare time.
But if you still don’t believe the two sports are similar, keep reading to discover the strong connection between football and poker.
Short Games and Tournaments
One major similarity is that it’s possible to play one-off, friendly games of poker or football, but there’s also the possibility of entering a competitive tournament.
A single match will allow anyone to be hailed as a winner, but a tournament will have less to do with luck and more to do with skill, as teams will enter multiple rounds to reach the final. Examples of superb football and poker tournaments included the Champions League, FIFA World Cup, World Series of Poker (WSOP), and World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).
Of course, poker and football tournaments can sometimes witness an underdog dog winning a final, which can make both sports so exciting. For example, football fans were in shock when Leicester City won the English Premier League in the 2015-16 season. An average joe could also enter a poker championship and walk away with the prize money, such as 25-year-old Scott Blumstein, an accounting graduate from New Jersey, who won $8.1 million in the WSOP in 2015 after practicing poker online.
Both football and poker tournaments are globally popular and regularly attract people from all walks of life. Every country that enjoys the two pastimes will have specific styles and approaches to a game, as they will have a distinctive culture and preferences, that can make a sport so exciting and diverse.
For example, German football and poker players are renowned for being both composed and organized, while French and Brazilian players and fans are often filled with much passion and flair. Also, as both sports are all-inclusive and come up with male and female games and tournaments, they continue to attract every race and gender.
Recreational and Pro Players
Another significant connection between poker and football is that each sport can be played at either recreational or professional level. For example, your average Joe could become a star player in a low-stakes poker game or a local football team. However, their inexperience could quickly become evident if they participated in a high-stakes poker hand or a professional football game.
The only difference is that anyone can buy a seat at a high stake live or online poker game, but unfortunately, it’s not possible to play at a pro-level on the pitch with the most prominent football players in the world.
Individual Styles and Skills
Watching two robots play football and poker would undoubtedly be mundane, even for the most passionate of fans, as the simulations would lack both personality and style.
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the tension of a big game, it’s the sports stars that add both style and substance to a single game or an intense tournament. Every footballer on the pitch or pro that steps up to the felt will have their unique style and skills, which can make fans root for their success.
For example, Cristiano Ronaldo has become a fan favorite due to his exceptional football skills, authoritative demeanor, and undeniable speed, which other players struggle to compete with. On the other hand, poker star Vladimir Geshkenbein is regarded as fearless with a deck of cards, which makes him so fascinating to watch.
A Forward-Thinking Approach
Football and poker also require players to remain one step ahead of their competitors during each game. For example, both a football manager and the players will need to identify a team or an individual player’s weak spots so that they can create a stronger defense or attack.
Poker pros also often follow a similar strategy, as they will make it their mission to spot a player’s bluffing tells and weaknesses, so they can win a hand and secure the prize money.
Of course, footballers and poker players will sometimes need to steer away from their strategy, as the opposition could change their tactics, or they might have failed to execute their plan successfully. Consequently, a player might be forced to launch a more aggressive attack on their opponent, or they could choose to embrace a slow and steady approach to win a game or hand.
Both football and poker are rooted in well thought out strategy, provide similar games and events, and feature many strong characters that make each sport so appealing. It is, therefore, no surprise that some of the biggest sports stars such as Gerard Pique, Jan Molby and Tony Cascarino choose to play Texas Holdem tournaments in their spare time or once their career has come to an end.
So, if you are looking for a fun game to play once the football season is over, you could practice your online poker skills or watch a major international tournament in-person or on TV, such as World Poker Tour Championships (WPT) or Triton Super High Roller Series (Triton Poker).