10 Ways Scrabble and Poker Are the Same

Two games that I love and recently noticed have a lot in common.
  1. 1.
    Both have been recently popular again.
    Poker’s interest skyrocketed when networks began showing players’ hole cards on television, allowing the home viewer to “play along” with the professionals. Sales of Scrabble board games increased significantly with the launch of the Facebook app Scrabulous (who was later sued by Hasbro, go figure).
  2. 2.
    They are simple to learn, but take a lifetime to master.
    With education and experience, you can improve your ability and become a winning player.
  3. 3.
    Anyone can play.
    A young child can play Scrabble with his grandfather. A novice poker player has the opportunity to play with professionals, if they have the bankroll.
  4. 4.
    Luck is a factor.
    The worst poker player can have great cards and triumph over a seasoned player. Likewise, sometimes you get all Qs and Xs in Scrabble and sometimes you’re stuck with the vowels.
  5. 5.
    But it takes more than luck.
    Professional poker players will “play the player” instead of the cards. They will play based on what they think their opponent is holding, and how they are feeling. Scrabble players can win with the worst letters by making strategic plays with what’s already on the board.
  6. 6.
    There are different angles and approaches.
    With poker, you can play conservatively or “loose,” passively or aggressively. With Scrabble, you can aim to create one long word for high points or lots of little ones. There is no right or wrong approach; you may need to mix it up sometimes for both.
  7. 7.
    You can manipulate.
    In poker, you can have a very strong hand, yet play it slowly, “trapping” your opponent into making the wrong move. In Scrabble, you can provide a red herring by revealing what appears to be a great space on the board while actually thinking two steps ahead.
  8. 8.
    You can anticipate.
    To be successful at both games, you need figure out what your opponent is going to do. What is their personality and style of play? Can you guess their cards or tiles? Knowing key details about your opponent will improve your game greatly.
  9. 9.
    You can play both games at home or at a tournament level.
    At the World Series of Poker, thousands of players come out each year in the hope of winning millions of dollars. The National Scrabble Tournament is a bit more low-key, with hundreds of entrants and a top prize of $10,000.
  10. 10.
    Both are immensely challenging and fun.
    There’s always something new that I can learn, so my love for both games just gets stronger with time. I’m also highly competitive, which makes both games that much more fun!