Why Rugby Players Would or Wouldn’t Make Good Poker Players

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When the All Blacks line-up against the world's best rugby teams, the Haka is our iconic war cry. It's like a frightening poker face that can beat the opposition before the kick-off even happens! But what's in the genetics that makes rugby players good or bad poker players? Here's an insight into why the mental make-up of rugby players can be useful at the poker table.

Why Rugby Players Would Make Good Poker Players

Sizing Up Opponents, Bluffing and Staying Cool

An old foe of the All Blacks, the ex-English rugby international Kieran Bracken, took part in a televised poker game in a shark cage, featuring a mix of poker pros and celebrity players. Just proves that both rugby and poker players show no fear. Bracken noted that macho bluffing in poker is similar to the gladiatorial posturing in rugby. Keeping your cool when dumped by a 20 stone prop is akin to a poker player grinning their way through a bad hand.


Tactics and strategy are the foundation of successful rugby and poker. This means that a rugby player who knows the value of developing skill and sticking to a structure will be adept at learning poker strategy and implementing it consistently to get an edge.

Respect and Humility

Poker and rugby are games of hard knocks – with too much arrogance and ego, you're going to get seriously hurt. The fundamental key is to stay humble and have respect for the game and opponents. Humility keeps you focussed and prevents the errors caused by over-confidence.

Self Improvement and Will to Win

Rugby skill needs practical and psychological improvement to become a better player – something matched by climbing up from online rookie to poker tournament pro. The will to win breeds hard work and focus, keeping the mind on playing with integrity.

Why Rugby Players Might Fail Against Poker Pros

Of course, there are a couple negative traits that could make poker a challenge for rugby players looking to make a switch:

Too many nights on the town

Today's rugby pros are just that – professional! However, they're still well known for some late night team bonding sessions and a few beers when permitted by the coaches. We're sure some poker professionals are the same, but too much recreation in clubs and bars affects brain performance and can derail poker success.


Poker might seem fun, but serious players need to master the art of mindful gaming and playing through sessions that can seem slow and boring. And the more structured your poker play, the less exciting it can seem, although you're more likely to win big this way. Rugby players thrive on adrenaline and might find poker too boring.


It's easy to get angry when meeting frustration on the rugby pitch or at the poker table, but you won't last long if you boil-over during a card game. You'll either get banned from playing or give your opponents the psychological advantage and make poor decisions. In rugby, while losing self control can be equally as detrimental, you can channel your physical aggression into tackles and powerful runs. Poker needs a cool head at all times.

Despite the negative traits, the self-improvement mindset of rugby players leaves them well equipped to work at any flaws in their poker personality.

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