Poker captured the nation and the world in such an amazing way that I think it's dumb to ever believe that something could equal or eclipse it's popularity. Something non-athletic, that is. I mean, poker is no soccer. We'll just put it that way.
But there are three very non-athletic "sports" that you may have caught sight of on TV or in the news lately that are all making a run for title of "next poker." They all involve very little activity and also have no chance at becoming anything close to the phenomenon that poker is.
The first of these three is blackjack. Competitive blackjack. The reasoning behind this push is that lots of people play blackjack, therefore lots of people will want to watch black jack. Like poker, black jack is (obviously) a card game. Unlike poker, black jack is a really boring game. Imagine getting your pals together for black jack night? Imagine standing up and getting all dramatic when you double down? Imagine watching black jack on TV? Ever? Yeah, not gonna happen.
The second game making a push for poker status is darts. Everyone's favorite barstool game is now tearing up ESPN as we speak. There's a "World Series of Darts," and to be honest, darts involves a serious amount of skill. And there, unfortunately, lies the problem with darts. It takes way too much time and effort to be able to hit a bulls-eye every time. And since there's no money involved, the incentive is non-existent. With the high-rolling aspect of poker being one of it's largest draws, look for darts to maybe become the next bowling. Next poker? Definitely Not.
Then there's dominoes, a game of skill and strategy. Most people in America know what a domino looks like, but aside from lining them up to knock them over (or buying them in a set, like "Domino Rally", which I played all the time when I was a kid, but not as much as "Mouse Trap") most people don't have a clue how the actual game of dominoes is played. They do know that dominoes was popular with the G's in Compton back in the day, but that's about it.
Of all these three, ESPN is making the biggest push with dominoes. Tournaments, celebrity events and sponsors are all in the works. But ESPN is making a big mistake, because dominoes, just like black jack and darts, will not be the next cool thing.
The next cool thing - and I am very serious about this - is rock paper scissors. I kid you not, RPS (as it will henceforth be referred to as) will take off if given the proper exposure. Even if it doesn't get exposure, the explosion of RPS is inevitable.
RPS is the most fun and inclusive of any of the afore mentioned "sports." Just like poker, you can learn to play in a matter of seconds. And just like poker, you can always be learning with RPS. It is a game of skill and a game of people just as much as it is a game of luck. Tournaments can be found in every major city these days, but the biggest of all these tourneys - the World RPS Championships - takes place every year in Toronto, Canada.
RPS is also very popular with the demographic that all of these other wannabes are all targeting: poker players. PokerListings.com's very own Matt and Owen witnessed a game of RPS between Norm MacDonald and Mike Matusow where $500 was bet on each throw. Betting is commonplace in RPS, and that's why poker players love it so much.
Personally, I can't wait for RPS to become the next poker. I'm a serious thrower, and I'm rarely defeated. I can get inside my opponents mind and really just know what he will throw next. But the best part about RPS is tricking your opponent. If I can get my opponent to believe that I'm about to throw rock (through body language and smack talk and all that), I can always throw scissors knowing that he will always throw paper, and therefore will always win.