“Historical Parallels between Tournament Poker and Esports.”

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Gaming Law Review





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Tournament poker feels much older than esports as a form of competitive play, but has only a two‐decade head start. They evolved from vastly different media: poker uses playing cards, which have not much changed since 1870,1 while esports are played on cabinets, consoles, and desktop computers that continue to rapidly evolve. Esports involve games across a diverse array of genres, from fisticuffs to monster vanquishing to alien eradicating, whereas tournament poker boils down to the manipulation of playing cards. Though the rules of poker games may differ, their fundamental media is identical. The activities' superficial differences, however, mask key commonalities. They are both defined by famous origin events, were both nurtured by business interests, and both skew heavily male. Despite their differences, machines and mythologies have each moved in ways that make the two sports look very similar. When considered in parallel, tournament poker and esports demonstrate how, regardless of game “content,” comparable financial motivations and technological innovations have produced remarkably similar competitive arenas. Esports have taken the gaming world seemingly by storm over the past year or two. People want to know more about them. Comparing esports to tournament poker can help us make sense of how both forms have evolved and provide a peak into esports' possible future. Some believe they will bring a new generation of players into casinos. While the history of tournament poker suggests that may be true, that same history demonstrates the limitations of technology in shifting a game's underlying demographics. After defining both esports and tournament poker, a look at the origin events of tournament poker and esports, followed by a brief consideration of their evolution (chiefly in social, not legal, terms), will provide some insight into how esports might develop as a “gaming” form.


Esports, Poker, Competition, Casino, Tournament



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