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Czechs Poker
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by: Gene Koprowski.
Poker is surging in popularity in the Czech Republic during the past two years — officials estimate that 60,000
Czechs play poker, with nearly 1,000 organized into 19 official clubs across the country.


Members of the Czech Association of Poker Clubs are lobbying the Finance Ministry to recognize the game as an official sport, and have enlisted legal representatives from Ernst & Young to aid in their campaign.
 
As a result of these talks, ministry officials say they are preparing to introduce a new “lottery act” that will streamline national regulations for gambling, which is currently prohibited outside of casinos . Currently, it is unknown whether poker game restrictions will be altered as part of the new legislation, which officials expect to release for government approval later this year.
 
“The Finance Ministry does not recognize the official sport, yet,” ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Chocholová said of poker.  Chocholová would not comment on the content of the upcoming legislation, saying only that poker outside of casinos is permitted in the Czech Republic, but only the game is played without any monetary stakes.
 
Players disagree with the ministry’s assessment of the game, saying that although large sums of money are often involved, poker itself is comparable with other sports, though relying on mathematical and psychological skills. Like chess.
 
“Ministry officials don’t understand that poker, in all its complexity, is not gambling as much as a skill game in which good players win and bad players lose,” said Kruška, whose association organizes regional and national championship tournaments yearly.
 
Chocholová said the hosting of poker tournaments , as well as the fact that the game has only recently become popular in the country, could potentially prevent the game’s reclassification.
 
“The association is trying to exempt poker tournaments from the lottery legislation,” she added. “These poker tournaments are the phenomenon of the past two years, and [permission is given] just for tournaments in casinos.
 
But other players said poker has all but replaced the traditional Czech mariáš as the country’s most popular card game, and likening the necessary skills to those of successful archers or equestrians.






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