The college sports scene has long been dominated by basketball, baseball, and football. Despite being part of a longstanding tradition, it could be argued that these physical games exclude a lot of people who have other talents. Mind sports are on the rise, though, with the eSports scene growing more each year. Games like poker, which require players to have strong mental skills, may soon be considered among college sports as well.
Thanks to the rise of online poker and the vast array of sites at which players can get a game, poker is being played more and more by college students while they complete their courses. Some college students who have mastered the game have found it to be a lucrative source of income while studying. One of the most notable examples of this is Scott Blumstein, the winner of the 2017 World Series of Poker. Blumstein was an accounting student at Temple University. Before taking down the ultimate prize in Las Vegas, he accrued around $150,000 in online tournament winnings.
To people who are uninitiated with poker, they may believe that it is a game of chance similar to blackjack. There are elements of chance involved because the dealing of the cards is done randomly. But professional players have developed strategies to mitigate against moments of luck, and have worked out optimum ways to ensure a higher success rate. This is why there is a huge difference between an amateur poker player and a professional, and why the same people manage to make it to the latter stages of major tournaments on a regular basis.
Just as a college basketball player would train hard for months on the court before getting a call-up to the team, a poker player would spend a great deal of time on the felt mastering their trade. While a lot of players play the game at online poker sites to attain a certain level of skill, casual poker games also occur on college campuses. These games give players a chance to improve their live game, and can involve them having to decipher psychological clues that their opponents give off through body language.
There has been a long debate as to whether poker should be considered a sport, as few would argue that legends like Phil Ivey and Stu Ungar made it to the top of the game through sheer luck. In recent years, people have become more open to the idea of reclassifying it as a mind sport. This has been thanks, in part, to the rise of eSports which are beginning to be taken more seriously. In the industry, players don’t require any physical skills but must be mentally strong.
Poker is still a relatively young pastime, as it has only risen to widespread popularity over the last twenty years. Now that it is being considered as a mind sport, there could be a place for it in the college sports scene in the years ahead.