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Five Striking Similarities Between Poker and Boxing

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When you think about professional boxers, the first things that come to mind are traits like strength and speed. However, to gain an edge over their opponents, these warriors also need to train their brains. It might surprise some, but apart from the pain and blood, boxing is a lot like poker when it comes to the mental, strategic, and tactical side of things. The poker table is a lot like the ring – players have to spend many hours keeping their nerves and emotions in check to win hands and to succeed at the highest level.

A closer look into both of these competitive disciplines reveals that they aren’t that different. Keep reading to find out about all the similarities shared by poker and boxing champions, from resilience to courage, self-confidence, fast decision-making, endurance, and a positive attitude.

Both demand patience
Both poker games and boxing matches may seem action-packed if you watch the highlights on TV. However, in reality, both sports require a huge amount of patience. Finding the right moment to attack is of utmost importance in boxing, and the same goes for the mental game of poker. No matter if you’re participating in a poker tournament or playing a cash game, the recipe for success comes down to choosing the right time to attack or defend. From a pre-flop fold with pocket queens to a river – much like twelve rounds of pugilism – poker is a game that demands calmness and endurance.

Both bring unmatched excitement
One of the defining components of these “mind sports” is the huge dose of excitement. The feeling after winning a poker tournament or a boxing match is like no other. Getting the better of hundreds of opponents in a multi-table tournament is thrilling enough. However, defeating that last rival heads-up is similar to knocking out an opponent in the last round in terms of the drama and adrenaline rush these situations provide.

Yes, Yordenis Ugas enjoyed a surge of positive emotion when he had his hand raised after fighting Manny Pacquiao.

Both require training
While possessing a natural gift for a game can prove invaluable on your way to the top, you won’t go far if you don’t put in a lot of time and effort into honing your skills. This is true for both poker and boxing. To win a pot routinely in a game of poker or knock out an opponent in a boxing match, you need to dedicate years to learning about different strategies, eliminating your weaknesses, and coming away with lessons from your mistakes.

While working on the skills and qualities that define a successful poker player isn’t as physically grueling as getting into shape for an important fight, constant learning and improvement are the only way to the top in both games.

Both are crowd-pleasing games
From amateur fights to television-broadcast showpieces that are now part of our sofa-based entertainment on a Saturday night, people have been admiring the art of pugilism for centuries. In the same way, boxing fans enjoy watching events such as the Heavyweight Championship of the World, poker enthusiasts follow the World Series of Poker Main Event. Because of the entertainment factor these sports provide, both boxing champions and poker stars have huge fan bases.

Knockouts can happen in both
Even the best can get knocked out when they least expect it.

Manny Pacquiao didn’t expect that thunder strike from Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth battle.

If he or she times the attack right, the worst fighter can knock out the world champion. This is also true for card players – no matter how detailed their poker strategy may be, if they are caught off guard, players can experience a huge loss.

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