Similarities of Poker and Chess

How is poker like chess? At first glance, it may seem like there are no similarities at all. However, a number of strong poker players, including 2008 final tablist and chess master Ylon Schwartz, have transferred their chess skills to the poker world.

What is the common thread between these two games?

Poker and Chess: Strategies

Both poker and chess are games of strategy, which is probably why they appeal to the same types of players. While poker is a game of incomplete information and chess is not, both games require tremendous forethought and the ability to anticipate an opponent’s moves.

In poker, as in chess, subsequent moves are determined by earlier moves. The opening bet or the opening moves, the middlegame tactics or bets on early streets to set up moves on later streets or gain information, and the endgame finisher or river all-in move. Both games have different strategic requirements all the way through.


Both poker and chess are games of effectively infinite complexity. There are billions of possible chess games that can be played, and very few are ever alike.

Similarly, no one can anticipate the way the cards will come out in a game of poker, so each game is different and requires different situations for strong players to recognize and adapt to.


Possibly the most important similarity between the two games is that both are entertaining enough to keep the games alive for generations and generations. Good chess players may devote an entire lifetime to the game, always discovering something new.

Similarly, poker players can sit and play the game for hours and days at a time, and often play well into their sunset years. Millions of player around the world are involved in playing poker online, and the “action” basically never stops.

Learning Poker and Chess

Although chess may seem like a much more difficult game to learn than poker, it really is not. The basic moves in chess are no more complex than the hand rankings in poker or knowing how to deal Texas hold’em.

However, in both games, mastery can take a lifetime, as the strategies are so varied and complex that careful study is required to excel. There are wide ranges of books on strategy and tactics in both games.

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