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Mar 04, 2015

What if Poker added Physical Skill Contests?

By RTR Dennis

On March 21st, the Borgata Hotel Spa & Casino is set to offer a real-money free-throw shooting contest. Are they the first to think of gambling on a physical skill contest? Well, only if you discount the millions of playground basketball games that have been played for money over the years. But the Borgata is definitely the first U.S. casino to offer gambling on a physical competition.

The way it'll work is that players pay a $20 buy-in to enter the free-throw tournament. Those who can nail the most free throws in 90 seconds will advance to the 16-player bracket. From here, competitors will aim for the final four spots, where a collective $10,000 is paid out, with $5k going to first place.

Obviously this is a really exciting and innovative idea with regard to casinos. And seeing as how New Jersey gaming regulators gave the okay, we can likely expect other casinos to emulate such physical skill games. But all of this got me thinking about something else: how about adding some physical skill to poker?

A fun twist to a popular game

Before you roll your eyes while dismissing this as a complete novelty article, just know that I'm not suggesting poker be transformed into some sideshow act, where players run through a mirror-filled fun house while juggling after every orbit. However, it wouldn't hurt to occasionally offer a poker tournament where some form of physicality enters the equation.

As alluded to before, the key would be accomplishing this feat without turning poker into a circus act. After all, a big reason why people play poker in the first place is because it's a thinking game with no physical effort involved.

One suggestion would be to piggyback on the Borgata's idea and add a free-throw shooting element into the equation. For example, you play the poker tourney as normal, but you'd also be required to shoot three rounds of free throws too. Depending upon how many shots you made in each round, a certain amount of chips would be added to your poker tournament stack.

Who would this appeal to?

really no limit to the amount of contests/sports you could add into the mix. Of course, it would be smart to keep it at the most-popular/manageable ones to draw in the largest crowds. This means no wind sprints, vertical leap contests or mixed martial arts combined with poker tournaments. Not everybody likes going home with a black eye or laboring to breathe at a poker event.

But the point is that adding some kind of physical contest like free throws would certainly interest a new crowd of recreational players. Of course, we're a long ways off from this happening because, first, we still need to see how the Borgata's free-throw tournament goes. Assuming this becomes a bigger thing in Atlantic City, then poker might definitely want to consider incorporating physical skill into a limited number of events.