Chess vs. Poker: Which Game to Choose?

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Whether you are hanging out with friends or are having a family game night, the number one thing you need to consider is of course what game to play. Two of the most popular ones at this time include poker and chess.

What we’re here to do today is to compare them with each other to see which one is right for you. As you probably already know, these are two vastly different games, so the section on similarities is going to be very short.

Chess and Poker: The Basics

Before we start talking about the similarities and differences between the two games, let’s first figure out what both chess and poker actually are.

What Is Chess?

Chess Chess is an extremely strategy-heavy game that is designed for two players and is played on a board that looks like a checkerboard. Both players begin the game with 16 pieces, each of which can move in their own specific ways, with the aim being to capture the opponent’s pieces.

The main point of chess is to cause a checkmate of the opponent’s king, which means that the king can no longer move to any other spaces without being captured. Once the opponent’s king has been captured, the game is over. One of the main things to keep in mind here is that chess is of course a board game.

What Is Poker?

Poker Poker is a specific type of card game where players are dealt a certain amount of cards. Poker can be played by numerous people, not just two, and is all about probability and bluffing.

In poker, there are various hands that a player can form, using his or her own cards, as well as community cards that everyone has access to in order to form hands. Now, there are a few variations of poker, with slightly different rules and procedures, but that said, the aim is always the same, and it is to achieve the best hand.

The player who has the best hand wins the round, and generally speaking, players are eliminated when they lose all of their money (whether play or real), with the final winner being the last person standing, or in other words, the last person with money left.

Similarities of Chess and Poker

Now that we know what both chess and poker are, let’s figure out what makes them similar. As mentioned before, these games really couldn’t be any more different from each other.

1. Both Involve Strategy

One of the most basic similarities that both of these games share is that they both involve a certain amount of strategy.

In chess, you have to anticipate your opponent’s moves and think about your own moves in order to catch their pieces and ultimately to capture the king. It is one of the most strategy-heavy games in the world. In case you didn’t know, the game of chess was meant to imitate a war-like scenario.

Poker is also quite strategic in nature, in the sense that you have to be able to read what your opponent is thinking and doing, and you also have to be able to judge which cards are the ones to keep and which ones you need to get rid of. Although poker is not quite as strategic as chess, they both involve a good deal of strategy and thinking.

2. Both Can Take a Long Time

Although this is of course a very basic similarity that poker and chess share, the simple fact of the matter is that both games can take a very long time to complete. Depending on who is playing both chess and poker can take well over an hour for a single game to be completed.

Chess vs. Poker

Differences Between Chess and Poker

Now that we know what makes poker and chess similar to each other, let’s find out what makes them different. And yes, as mentioned before, these are two vastly different games.

1. One Is a Board Game, the Other Is Not

The most basic difference between these two games is the fact that chess is a game that is played on a board, whereas poker is a card game. As you can see, even the style of game is extremely different. All you need to play poker is a deck of cards, whereas for chess you need the board as well as all of the pieces. Chess is about capturing the opponent’s king, whereas poker is about getting the best possible hand.

2. Poker Has an Element of Luck

Now what needs to be said about chess is that it is far more strategic in nature because all 16 pieces from both players are placed on the board right in the beginning. There is nothing that you can’t see in chess. On the other hand, in poker, you are relying on being able to tell what your opponent is thinking, and you are also relying on a bit of luck because you need to be dealt the right cards. Poker has a lot more to do with luck than chess does. Technically speaking, chess does not involve any luck or chance whatsoever. Poker is a game of chance.

3. Chess Is Strictly a Two-Player Game

Another basic difference that these two games have is that chess is strictly a two-player game, whereas poker can be played by as many as eight people or more. In fact, a game of poker played with just two people is probably going to be the most boring game you’ve ever experienced.

4. Poker Is About Bluffing

In chess, there is no bluffing whatsoever. You can’t fake any moves, and you can’t lie. Everything is right on the table. On the other hand, poker is all about bluffing. It’s all about making your opponent think that you have a good hand when you actually have a bad hand and that you have a bad hand when you actually have a good hand. Winning in poker has a lot to do with being able to outsmart and outbluff your opponent.

5. One Can Be a Gambling Game, the Other Is Not

What also needs to be said here is that generally speaking, chess is not played for money. It’s just not a gambling game. Poker, on the other hand, is often played for money. The main point of poker is to win money.

6. Poker Has a Lot of Variables

The fact of the matter is that with chess there are absolutely no unknown variables. Everything is laid out there on the board. On the other hand, with poker, there are of course a lot of variables, such as what your opponents are doing, what cards they have, and what cards you are going to be dealt by the dealer.

Chess vs. Poker: Which Game to Choose?

The bottom line here is that if you want to play a strategic game that is going to require all of your thinking power, then chess is the way to go. However, if you like strategy games, but you also like to work with probability and uncertainty, then poker is the better choice.


As you can see, chess and poker are just two extremely different games, and they really don’t share any similarities whatsoever. One is a gambling game of chance that is played with a deck of cards and the other is a strategic war-like game that is played with a board and pieces.