What The Queen’s Gambit Can Teach Poker Pokers

By Ben Hamill - November 30 2020
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What The Queen’s Gambit Can Teach Poker Pokers

American Woman Grandmaster, World Chess Hall of Famer, and Poker player Jennifer Shahade says that Poker players can learn a lot from Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit. And owing to director Scott Frank’s clean and uncomplicated, yet mesmerising approach to a game traditionally assumed to be overly complex and not exactly cutting-edge entertainment to watch, many have been speculating about the extent of what a Poker version of the show could accomplish.

The statistics are nothing short of astounding. During the first 28 days of the airing of the show, 62 million households the world over were literally glued to their screens as they watched actress Anya Taylor-Joy embody the persona of chess protégé Beth Harmon. Even Google searches for “How to play chess” hit a nine-year high during this time.

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On Emulating Success

The secret to accomplishing for Poker that which The Queen’s Gambit has achieved for chess would be a combination of elements, said Shahade. Such elements would be a commitment towards getting the correct input from the right people – people who know Poker in the same way and to the same extent as what Grandmaster Garry Kasparov knows chess – and writers and actual players with a proper understanding of how to tell a great story.

What The Queen’s Gambit managed to achieve with phenomenal success, said Shahade, was consulting with the right people and translating that input in a way both reflective of a commitment to excellence and portraying the facts and finer nuances in a storied and authentic way.

Significant too was the minimalistic way in which the actual dialogue was approached, explained Shahade, thereby creating out of chess games a strong secondary script and at the same time presenting to those interested in digging deeper into the actual moves of the game a second viewing and added value.

Different But The Same

Shahade also said that she considered steering clear of the legality debate important if content as significant as The Queen’s Gambit were to be created for Poker.

Chess and Poker share humanity’s international appeal in that both can be played regardless of nationality, native language, or any of the other barriers we perceive as being divisive, explained the Grandmaster. Also shared are the methods used by chess players and Poker players as they endeavour to master their respective disciplines – something Shahade said she considered expertly portrayed by the Netflix series within the context of chess.

Reaching a high level of skill in either game require the same levels of commitment, concluded Shahade: actual play, constant and honest self-analysis, computer-based training, and studying how top players play the game.

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