Ruling on playing poker when it is not for money
Poker is a common card game.
It says in al-Mawsoo’ah al-‘Arabiyyah al-‘Aalamiyyah: A card game is a game of chance or skill. It uses rectangular pieces of cardboard, on each of which are shapes and numbers. It is possible to play hundreds of games using playing cards. Different numbers of people may take part in card games. The game of patience may be played by just one person; casino is played by two; pinochle or whist are played by four. Canasta needs between two and six players. In the case of poker, it may be played by as many as ten persons. There are other games that are also preferred by players, such as rummy, poker, black jack, five hundred, pick it, and so on. Each game has its own system and rules. End quote.
If this game is played for money, then it is gambling which is haraam, because it is not permissible to offer money except in contests that were mentioned by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “There should be no (money) prizes except for contests in archery, camel-racing or horse -racing.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1700), al-Nasaa’i (3585), Abu Dawood (2574) and Ibn Majaah (2878). Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Some scholars added to that anything that may help in jihad, whether tangibly or intangibly, such as competitions in memorizing the Holy Qur’aan or Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and competitions in planes, ships, boats and so on. As for playing cards, that does not come under this heading.
If it is not played for money, it is still haraam according to a number of scholars, because it is akin to dice in its dependence on conjecture and guesswork, and playing with dice is haraam, because of the report narrated by Muslim (2260) from Buryadah ibn al-Husayn (may Allaah be pleased with him), according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever plays with dice, it is as if he were dipping his hand in the flesh and blood of a pig.”
Abu Dawood (4938) and Ibn Majaah (3762) narrated from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever plays with dice has disobeyed Allaah and His Messenger.”
Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Sharh Muslim: The scholars said: Nardasheer means nard (dice). Nard is a Persian word that has been Arabized. Sheer means sweet. This hadeeth was quoted as evidence by al-Shaafa’i and a number of scholars as evidence that playing with dice is haraam. What is meant by “dipping his hand in the flesh and blood of a pig” is when he is eating it, so it is likening the prohibition on dice to the prohibition on flesh and blood of pigs. And Allaah knows best. End quote.
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said in Tuhfat al-Muhtaaj Sharh al-Minhaaj (10/215): It is haraam to play with dice according to the correct view because of the report of Muslim: “Whoever plays with dice, it is as if he were dipping his hand in the flesh and blood of a pig.” And according to a report narrated by Abu Dawood, “[he] has disobeyed Allaah and His Messenger.” Dice games are based on conjecture and guesswork that lead to a great deal of foolishness. al-Raafa’i said: The point here is that dice are an analogy for all other types of games that are similar.
Everything that is based on conjecture is haraam. That includes kanjafah, which are cards on which there are pictures. End quote.
The Standing Committee has issued a fatwa (15/231) stating that it is haraam to play cards, even if it is not for money. This was also stated in a fatwa by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him). See Qadaaya al-Lahw wa’l-Tarfeeh by Madoon Rasheed, p. 186. See also the answer to question no. 12567.
And Allaah knows best.