It may at first seem like an odd comparison, but the skills and dedication needed for poker and American football are remarkably similar. Yes, one involves a lot of physical strength whilst the other requires the player to sit for long periods of time using just mental strength with barely the need to move, but the contrast ends there.
When engaging in poker, one needs to be, above all, focused on the task at hand. Similarly, with football, the game is the only thing on your mind. Strategy is a huge key to poker and a valued football skill. There are loads of poker strategies that players employ to gain the upper hand within a poker game just like a football team would never think about heading onto the field without having first devised some kind of strategy together with their coaches. Whether you are out in the field scoring touchdowns or poker-facing your opponents, you will always have the same thought in your mind: this is a competition, and the best player wins.
Both poker players and football players must learn to understand the opposition, empathise with them, teach themselves to understand the decision of an opponent and why that decision was made in order to anticipate and overthrow them. While a football player is doing drills, working out and practising their throws, a poker player is learning, adapting their mind and working on manipulation games to outwit their competition. Either way, motivation is what drives both football and poker players, and this is yet another similarity.
Mind-set, strategy and mental concentration aren’t the only similarity poker and football share. Both have strong roots dating way back in history, with the first professional American football teams being traced back to 1892 after a football game between the U.S.’s Harvard and Canada’s McGill University sparked its popularity 20 years earlier. The earliest known poker games were reported in 1829 in New Orleans. Perhaps the closeness in age is the reason that the development of the mental aspects of these two games is so similar, who knows. But there are definite comparisons to be made about the mental states of players involved in both of these extremely popular games throughout North America.
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