According to statistics, there are over 60 million poker players in the U.S. alone and at least 100 million around the world. Nowadays, with the accessibility factor of virtual platforms that allow fans to take their gameplay off the felt and onto the keyboard, more and more users are joining the online ranks each day, making Texas Hold’em increasingly popular. However, even the globe’s richest and most talented players don’t spend all their time playing and studying poker. There are a few other activities that many poker players have been known to love as much as a round of poker. Let’s take a look at the top 5 favorite non-poker activities of famous and amateur players alike. Baccarat Although poker and baccarat are obviously different pursuits in terms of applying strategy to gameplay, many fans of poker have been known to enjoy a few hands of the thrilling card game. Professional poker players who spend a lot of mental energy on the strategic game are able to relax and take a load off with a different type of activity that requires much less focus and concentration. Tech-savvy poker players who often enjoy playing in the digital realm on some of the best online casino options available can easily access various baccarat games as well. Of course, baccarat isn't much of a skill game, and you won't get the upper hand on the house (unless you're Phil Ivey, that is), but the odds in baccarat aren't that bad, especially when you bet on the banker. Chess The presence of chess in pop culture reached new heights recently with the release of the Netflix sensation, The Queen’s Gambit, and since then, it seems that everyone wants to get their hands on a chessboard. However, for poker players, chess has always been a classic favorite. Both games require players to practice intense focus and concentration skills as well as utilize personal strategies to outwit their opponents. Although chess is played against only one opponent, the best players must also develop elite decision-making skills and exert a significant amount of mental energy. This is because people who engage in chess games can only come out on top if they practice the art of prediction. The ability to think forward and guess their opponent’s next move is vital. The bottom line is: strategic thinking is common to poker and chess and could be the reason why so many love to play both. After all, it could even help a poker player’s performance to sharpen their mind with another type of strategic game like chess in their free time. One of the famous players to recently take up chess is Daniel Negreanu. DNegs is a total beginner in the game but seems very keen on developing his skills. Backgammon Backgammon is another non-poker activity that many players have been known to play when they aren’t at the virtual or physical poker table. This game is one with ancient historical roots, dating back all the way to Mesopotamian times. This 5,000-years old board game can be similar to poker in terms of skill, as the most talented player will always come out ahead at the end of any given matchup. The overall goal of backgammon isn’t so complex to understand. However, players must figure out a strategy that works best for them as the game involves lots of deep strategies. In contrast to poker, backgammon makes use of a die, also adding a layer of luck, which is an essential part of poker, too. Compared to chess, backgammon has some commonalities, such as featuring just two players and using a board and pieces to mark the moves. Backgammon could be placed somewhere between chess and baccarat on this list. Poker players enjoy it because it’s not as intense as the game they’re used to playing but is still an entertaining and competitive option. The most famous player who's also a huge backgammon fan is, of course, Gus Hansen. The Great Dane is actually one of the top baccarat players in the world, and he's made a fair bit of money from the game. Bridge Bridge is by far the most complicated card game in existence. Played by four players, two against two, bridge requires extensive studying and a lot of effort away from the tables. The game isn’t as popular a choice among poker players as the rest on this list, and for a good reason. To be able to even play a proper game of bridge, you’ll have to do some serious learning and memorize a lot of information. Bridge games are quite intense, so it’s not something you’d want to do if you’re looking for a fun activity to reset your brain. On the other hand, like chess, bridge is quite challenging and helps keep your mind sharp, which is why some poker players enjoy it. Gin Gin, or gin rummy, is a very popular card game that is also enjoyed by many poker players. It probably owes some of its popularity in the poker circles to the fact it was played by Stu Ungar, one of the game’s most iconic characters. Although the luck factor is quite significant in gin, it is also a game of skill. A good gin player will always come out on top, and Ungar is one of the best examples of this. He used to be so good that he could no longer find an opponent willing to play him. It was the lack of willing gin opponents that led Stu to take up poker. The goal of the game is to get rid of all the cards in your hand by creating groups of the same rank or consecutive runs of the same suit. An observant player will gain an edge by paying attention to what cards his opponent discards and tailoring their strategy accordingly. Of course, some players like to keep it simple and prefer to stick to classic casino games such as blackjack.
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