What do MMA and Poker Have in Common?

What do MMA and Poker Have in Common?
Photo by Marin Tulard

It might not be obvious initially, but poker and MMA have much in common. Firstly, both games offer the opportunity for huge winnings. The median salary for MMA fighters in the US is $44,680, and a quick look at this Bovada Poker Review will tell you that there are endless opportunities for large payouts on top poker sites. But beyond the cash, what other things do MMA and poker have in common? Here is a look at the top five similarities between the two sports.

Both Are Mental Games

By definition, MMA is a highly physical sport. But this does not take away from the fact that both MMA and poker are primarily mental sports. Poker players use strategies like Game Theory to leverage player behavior and card combinations and win the game. Similarly, MMA fighters must be mentally fit to devise combat strategies, beat seemingly stronger opponents, and more.

Both Sports Are Highly Entertaining

It is safe to say that nothing beats the excitement of winning a UFC fight or international poker tournament. But beyond the excitement these games offer the people who play them, the two sports are also highly entertaining. Poker enthusiasts flock to the World Series of Poker Main Event the same way MMA fans follow the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Both sports have an entertainment value derived from the high stakes – championship titles in MMA and millions of dollars in poker.

Both Require Unpredictability

Ever heard of a poker face? MMA fighters need it too. Mental acuity is crucial to victory in both sports, and unpredictability is a valued currency for poker players and MMA fighters. In poker, players have to plan their moves so that their opponents never know what to expect. This “deception” is how great poker players can win on good hands and bluff through bad ones. In MMA, mixing it up allows a fighter to land more submission attempts and big shots, surprising the opponent at every turn. After all, if your opponent knows where you will aim your next blow, they can dodge it.

Players from Both Must Know When to Quit

It may not make a lot of sense to talk about quitting in highly competitive and rewarding sports. But knowing when to quit is a key skill for both MMA fighters and poker players. Folding in poker allows you to maintain your bankroll until the conditions are more favorable. In fact, quitting can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. In MMA, throwing in the towel or retreating allows you to assess your opponent and revise your strategy, increasing your chances of winning. Quitting in MMA can even save your life, especially when you have taken a little too many hits.

Pacing Wins in Both Sports

Pacing works almost the same as quitting, but it allows you to stay in the game rather than leave it. In poker, pacing allows players to read their opponents and hedge their bets. In MMA, the same strategy allows fighters to balance endurance with aggression. Masters of optimal pacing in both sports include the grandfather of Texas Hold’em, Doyle Brunson, and UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Pierre is known for reserving his energy and winning bouts in unexpected but spectacular ways. Brunson’s pacing has afforded him an over 50-year poker career.



MMA involves taking and giving punches while, as our Bovada Poker Review reveals, the hits in poker are mostly targeted at your bankroll. Still, both the MMA and poker worlds have collided in recent years, with many celebrities straddling both sides. Both sports have a dark history and have been outlawed in some jurisdictions. Despite being around for decades, they only gained mainstream acceptance in 2006. Moreover, both sports rely heavily on strategy and mental acuity. The similarities are hard to ignore.




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