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A game of minds or a game of luck: Why Poker is the new Chess

Himanshu Goel
98   //    07 May 2019, 20:33 IST

Poker's popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade
Poker's popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade

With all the bad press it gets, not everyone is convinced that poker is anything like chess. However, you will be stunned to know that these two seemingly different games are not all that different.

What is Poker?

Poker is a card game that involves winning and losing money. In this definition itself lies the two main differences between chess and poker: chess is a board game and does not involve money as a part of the game.

Benefits of Poker

Though it may not seem like it, this mind game teaches the players to strategize, to think beyond your own moves and anticipate those of your opponents. For many, it teaches money management and inculcates a certain amount of maturity and discipline.

A game of the mind

Both poker and chess are known as mind games or brain games. The two games sharpen mind skills such as logical thinking, analysis, problem-solving ability, rational thinking, attention and visual processing.

Not just a game of luck

Though many consider luck to be a big part of poker, others say that this card game is also a game of skill and strategy. Pro poker players say that concentration, the anticipation of moves and analytical skills are as important a part of poker as they are for chess.


Theoretical knowledge

Much like chess, poker also involves some theoretical knowledge. Arguably, instinct would be considered more significant in poker. However, the increasing number of poker training sites and literature are evidence that poker isn't just about going with your gut. It's a mind sport just like chess with more variables in picture.

Influence of mathematics

Both poker and chess are influenced by the subject of mathematics. These games, especially chess, require a sound knowledge of calculating odds and probabilities while playing. Though some may scoff, pro poker players say that math helps them not only to do basic calculations of “pot odds” but also whether or not to call.

Influence of psychology

Poker and chess have a lot to do with anticipation and behavior reading, both critical parts of psychology. It's not just about strategy but also the ability to understand how your opponent thinks, how they will react to a particular move, whether or not they are bluffing.

Such skills are helpful not just in games but in real life too.

Grandmaster talks

Chess Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade has not only mastered the game of chess but also poker. Not only is she a two time United States’ Women’s Chess champion but also a pro poker player both online and offline. In an interview, she stated that both these mind games are quite similar and to be good at both one requires a lot of effort and an ability to strategize.

Over the years, poker has gathered a bad reputation, especially in regards to gambling and money problems. In recent years, however, organizations like MadOverPoker are trying to bring the card game back into the spotlight for genuine poker enthusiasts.

Though chess and poker may have their stark differences, their many similarities cannot be denied. Playing both these games well is a testament of skill, effort, and strategy.