Hockey has an undeniably firm grip on the hearts of Canadians. It’s a sport that is played, watched, or followed to some degree by a huge portion of our population. When we encounter strangers on a bus or on the street, small talk can safely gravitate toward two topics: the weather and hockey. The mental sport of poker doesn’t hold nearly the same degree of prominence in our country, but here are eight compelling reasons why it should:
1 — Border Jumping Players
For 20 years now, there reaches a moment in the NHL playoffs every season when there are no Canadian teams remaining to contend for the elusive Stanley Cup. The common defense is to point out that the winning team is likely composed of a majority of Canadians, so the cup was “really” won by “our” players. Many of the best players on our side of the border move south for a high-paying contract. The current state of online poker has turned the tables on this trend. Since Black Friday, American online poker players have had to either give up the game or move to a country that permits them to continue to play. For many of the serious players, a move to Canada or the purchase of a second home north of the border was their best option. It’s a refreshing change to see the border jumping shift northward.
2 — Crazy Hockey Parents
The stories of overzealous parents at their kids’ hockey games are too common for comfort. The scene usually involves a parent screaming at the coach for not letting their kid play, or at a player for some misdeed on the ice, or at another parent for the actions of their child. It’s the kind of behaviour that makes you cringe. Can you imagine this happening on the rail at a poker tournament? How often do a poker player’s supporters holler out obscenities at the dealer for a bad river card? Have railers ever broken into a fistfight over the action on the table? While a bit of taunting and mockery has found its way into the game, there’s nothing that quite resembles the verbal abuse heard in the stands at a minor league hockey game.
3 — Play Defense for your Wallet
The costs involved with hockey vary quite a bit. Just to get all the necessary equipment a player will need to spend $600-$1000+ before ever stepping on the ice. Then there are the league fees which range from a few hundred dollars up to $15,000 for the highest level of amateur hockey. Hockey is expensive! Poker costs whatever you want it to cost. If you want to play for free there are many freeroll tournaments, both online and live, to choose from. You get to set the cost of playing in tournaments and leagues by deciding which buy-in you can afford. Of course there’s a decent chance that you will actually make money by playing too. Have a look at some of the great-value freerolls offered to readers of PokerNews to get started without any investment.
4 — Hockey Stinks
It is not unheard of that a tournament poker player might be willing to forego a breath mint or deodorant in order to make the people around them a little uncomfortable. Sitting shoulder to shoulder around a table for long hours tends to lead to some nose-wrinkling body odour. But compared to the locker room at your local ice rink, it’s all roses and butterflies. Even worse than the locker room is the hockey bag which quickly stinks up your vehicle on the way home from the rink and then proceeds to fill your garage or basement with an intolerable stench as you hang out the equipment to dry. There is no arguing it; hockey stinks.
5 — Commitment Issues
In both poker and hockey it’s important to be mentally and physically ready for the game in order to perform your best. Unfortunately, in hockey you have to commit to a schedule weeks or months in advance and be on the ice whenever it says so on the calendar. This means that you will sometimes be playing when you don’t really feel enthusiastic about it, and other times you will be really excited to play but have to wait until the next scheduled game. With online poker there are hundreds of tournaments and cash games running every minute. Even live venues have 24-hour poker rooms that are available any time of the week. You can play your best by choosing the times when you are most prepared and motivated to play.
6 — Equal Opportunity
It is true that women are allowed to play in the NHL, and people will defend that fact with the example of goaltender Manon Rhéaume who played a few exhibition games for the Tampa Bay Lightening. In reality, she played in the early 90’s to get some attention for a new team and no other woman has played at that level since. Poker is unique because any given tournament will include players of all genders, ethnicities, ages, and even abilities. A new player willing to buy in to a high-profile event could find themselves seated with the best in the game. When would a recreational hockey player ever be able to face off against a professional from the NHL? Poker marks no divisions between players.
7 — Pay to Play vs Paid to Play
Every time a hockey team needs the rink for practice or to play a game, they must pay a fee. The venue controls their access to the ice and charges whatever rate they can get away with. What a different relationship poker players have with their online poker venues! Poker sites offer players large deposit bonuses and free buy-ins for tournaments to play on their site. There are bonuses, giveaways, and events that reward their players. Have a look at some of the great bonuses PokerNews can offer you. They’re the best you’ll find!
8 — Playground Bullying
There are some heated moments in poker when huge sums of money are on the line. A few players have earned themselves a reputation for dramatic displays after losing a hand, but it never goes beyond some swearing and a few insults. Imagine a top player losing to a one-outer and erupting from the table, grabbing the other player’s shirt and pulling it up over his head to blind him while he pummels him with his bare fists. Without a doubt, security would rush to the table and charges would be laid on the offender. However, if you’re wearing skates and standing on ice this behaviour seems to be acceptable, even encouraged by the people chanting “fight, fight, fight” in the stands. Poker players can be grateful that emotions are expressed in far less destructive ways at the poker table.
Let’s lift this great mental sport of poker to a higher level in our country. We aren’t likely to see a show called “Poker Night in Canada” depose its hockey counterpart any time soon, but we can try to give the game the recognition it deserves.
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