Will Poker Ever Present an Olympic Opportunity for Indian Players?

There has long been a discussion about whether or not poker should be considered a sport. In India, it has traditionally been regarded as a game of skill which has become increasingly popular with younger players.

They relish the opportunity to play different versions of the game such as three-card poker variants from this list. Given this popularity, there is no doubt that poker is a common pastime in India, but is it a sport that could appear at the Olympics? Back in 2017, the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) accepted Match Poker as an observer. This type of poker is different from other versions but this may still be good news for poker enthusiasts. 

What is match poker?

Match poker was launched as a means of removing the ‘gambling’ aspect from poker. It has led the way for poker to potentially being recognised as an Olympic sport at some point.

The difference between Match Poker and other forms of the game is that players do not compete against other players who sit at the same table; they simply play with them. 

Each player competes with the player who is at the same position on every other table. All players in the same position are given the same starting hand. The aim is to play that hand better than competitors. 

Playing poker in this way removes any element of luck or gambling. Players simply need to play their hand better than others who have exactly the same hand. It’s this removal of chance that has set the game of Match Poker up to potentially become part of the Olympic family of sport. 

The first professional Match Poker league took place in Mumbai, in November 2017 and the winning team represented Team India at the Nations Cup. Match Poker is now a part of the poker landscape in India. This is why many Indians will be keeping a close eye on whether Match Poker gives them an opportunity to play or watch poker in the Olympics. It’s far from certain that this will ever happen, but the observer status that was awarded to Match Poker in 2017 may help. 

What does observer status mean? 

There was much excitement amidst the poker community in India, and internationally, when Match Poker was given observer status by the GAISF. This meant that this form of poker was provisionally regarded as a sport. 

Of course, this does not mean that Match Poker will ever be seen at the Olympics. It simply means that poker has taken a step in the right direction. There is a chance that one day Match Poker players will appear at the Olympics. 

Until then, players and fans have the opportunity to take part in Match Poker events in India and other countries across the world. For players, doing this gives them the opportunity to hone their skills so that they are well-prepared if an Olympic opportunity is ever presented to them.