Is Chess Gambling? What You Need To Know

Chess has always been popular. For some years now, chess has been gaining online popularity as well. This centuries-old board game boasts a relatively large following in its own right, but since 2020, it has been gaining new ground as a popular esports game. Its association with gambling is also a recent event, so how is chess related to gambling? Let’s find out. 

Chess, like card games and backgammon, is a game. They are not “gambling games” in and of themselves, but people have played and continue to play for money over these games. Chess is probably the least popular gambling game. Gambling can occur not only between players but also between observers, a practice known as chess hustling.

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Popularity Of Chess

Chess is a game that has been popular for almost 1500 years. The origins of chess are still a source of contention as they are hard to trace back correctly. There is no solid evidence that chess existed in anything resembling its contemporary form before the sixth century CE. 

However, game pieces discovered in Russia, China, India, Central Asia, Pakistan, and elsewhere that have been determined to be older than that are now thought to have originated from earlier distantly related board games, which frequently involved dice and sometimes used playing boards of 100 or more squares.

The popularity of chess in Western courtly society peaked between the 12th and the 15th centuries. The game was mentioned in the vernacular and Latin language literature throughout Europe, and many works were written on or about chess between the 12th and the 15th centuries.

How Can You Learn Chess?

Learning chess is not very hard. One of the reasons the game is so popular is that it has a shorter learning curve but a long mastery curve. You can get started easily by first learning about the game pieces and how they move.

Chess is now more accessible than ever before. Chess tournaments will continue to witness rise in viewership and attendance as new players observe and attempt to better their chess, given the increase in popularity over the past year and the extraordinary increase in the availability of materials for new players over the past decade.

Chess players used to have to acquire books and magazines to get information about high-level chess games before the internet and chess streaming. Unprecedented amounts of instructional material are now freely available online.

What Is Considered Gambling?

Gambling is the act of wagering or betting money or something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the intent to win more money or things of value than were wagered.

It is the staking of something of value on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event, the outcome of which may be determined by chance or accident or may have an unexpected consequence due to the bettor’s miscalculation.

The outcomes of gambling games can be determined solely by chance, such as a tossed pair of dice or the ball on a roulette wheel, physical talent, training, or prowess in sports contests, or by the combination of strategy and chance.

Can Chess Be Considered Gambling?

On its own, it cannot be considered a gamble, as chess is not a game of chance, but that does not take it out entirely from the prospect of gambling. It is not a requirement for gambling, to physically be playing the game. 

Gambling can happen not just between players, but also between observers, which is called chess hustling. You’re risking money on an unknown outcome to win a prize when you bet on another player and his skills. So, betting money on chess players is still gambling.

What Is Chess Hustling?

Chess hustling is playing chess for money and either using a concealed amount of expertise, or less honest tactics to win games against opponents. Chess hustlers will challenge for money and can often be highly skilled at the game. A chess hustler may not be as highly rated on the chessboard as expected.

Is Chess Hustling Legal?

Chess hustling is a feature of New York street life and has been dubbed the city’s “biggest growth industry.” Although chess gambling is technically illegal, law enforcement typically overlooks chess hustlers. 

Most hustlers have never studied chess; instead, they learn by playing and playing and playing. Having said that, hustlers win more games with banter than with talent. There are many online platforms available for chess hustling as well now. The practice has become more familiar with the growth of online streaming of chess matches.

How Do Chess Hustlers Make Money?

Chess Hustlers either wager on matches of other players or make money from playing chess in an informal setting with money bet on it. That is all that there is to it.

With enough tourist traffic, a highly adept chess hustler who knows the ins and outs of the game can earn up to USD$400 every day. The hustler can charge $3 for a no-bet game, and the winner gets $5 if you bet. As an additional source of income, hustlers might provide 30-minute lessons for $20.

Chess is a game that is basically considered “unfair” by many.  You can make 40 good moves, but just one or two terrible ones can cost you the game. Chess is also a game of deception and resource management. Many lesser positions offer resources and opportunities, and stronger players are often skilled at identifying and capitalizing on them.


Chess is an old game that has retained its popularity for centuries. It is intricate and requires years to master. It has soared in popularity recently, especially after the pandemic. With its continuing popularity, chess hustling became more common as well. 

Though it is not precisely gambling on its own, when chess is played with people betting money on it, it becomes intertwined with gambling.   

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