I think you would be hard pressed to find any average person who doesn’t think of poker as at least a little nerdy. Poker has become so ubiquitous in our culture that nobody looks odd sitting with a hand of cards. However, I’m willing to bet that the predominate image that comes to mind when one thinks of poker is that of young math or computer science geeks endlessly calculating probabilities at the table or in front of the computer screen. This picture of avid poker players would line up next to the college chess society. This is a far cry from the reputation it used to have.
I can remember when poker conjured up images of brazenly shifty eyed rogues in seedy card rooms. Although, to be fair, it did always have a facet that placed in the cigar filled parlors of the upper crust of society (perhaps no less a bunch of swindlers in their own right). It was a game that invited dishonesty and the other more loathsome aspects of humanity. Now on the other hand, it is thought of as an academic endeavor. Its a puzzle to be figured out rather than a scam to get the best of.
Its an interesting change that is worth noting. at least in the case of poker, It is less the nature of the activity that determines its social preconceptions rather than the images and history surrounding it.