Is Poker Luck or Skill?

    • jayjoekuakua
      jayjoekuakua
      Global
      Joined: 27.09.2014 Posts: 19
      This question is at the epicenter of a long debate about online poker. If poker is luck, then it will fall under the gambling laws. If poker is a game of skill, then such casino laws cannot regulate the game.

      It seems that there are strong proponents for each view, creating a lively discussion on the Internet. This can have serious consequences as some people and companies may have to pay big fines if convicted of breaking gambling laws.

      According to lawyer Jeff Philips, "the issue of whether skill or chance is the dominant factor in the game of poker has never been litigated with the presentation of evidence in the U.S."

      Such legal issue depends on the State or country laws and definitions of gaming and gambling so that there may never be a universal answer.
      Annie Duke makes a very interesting comment about skill in poker in her blog. She argues that it is possible to voluntarily lose at poker. Check-folding every hand is a strategy that is guaranteed to lose consistently.

      The point is that it is impossible to lose on purpose at a game of pure chance. If you play a simple game of dice with two players, one player wins each time an even number comes up and the other player likewise for odd numbers. There is no way to lose on purpose, as luck is the only factor that can determine the loser (assuming fair dice).

      This is a simple proof that poker is not a game of pure luck as the actions taken by the players have a real impact, unlike pure gambling games where their actions have no impact other than introducing additional randomness into the outcome.

      Another salient comment comes from a blog post by silentarchimedes who argues that there are a lot of similarities between poker and stock investing.

      In economics, speculation is the villain and investing the hero. Speculation is associated with gambling and is considered to be a non-productive activity, sometimes nearly harmful to the economy. Whereas investing is a noble endeavor requiring skill and intelligence and serving a high purpose, i.e. better capital allocation into the economy.

      But how much gambling and how much skill is there for the average Joe when it comes to stock investing? The financial events of 2008 demonstrate that there was a tremendous amount of gambling involved in stock investing in recent years. Similarly to poker, stock investing involves both luck and skill.
      Another simple argument is to observe that there are thousands of professional poker players. It is true that most are young and cannot attest of the long-term viability of poker as their only source of income. But take someone like Doyle Brunson who has been living off poker exclusively for the past five decades. Was he lucky fifty years in a row?

      Another argument was developed by a Dutch Professor of Statistics who created a scale to rank games depending on how muck luck or skill is involved in every specific game.

      His formula is skill = learning effect / (learning effect + chance effect), where learning effect is the difference between an optimum player and a beginner. Based on this scale from zero to one, poker scores 0.4 and ranks at the same level as chess.

      [Edited by Lazza61]
  • 25 replies
    • sk345di
      sk345di
      Global
      Joined: 07.05.2009 Posts: 225
      there is a simple solution.. take the top 100 HU poker players in the world vs the top 100 most lucky people in the world, and they play HU for 'x' amount of hands for their net worth. i think we all know the outcome already.
    • mineriva
      mineriva
      Bronze
      Joined: 30.04.2008 Posts: 913
      the link is to a game.

      It seems the purpose of the post is just to direct traffic to their game.
    • PokerPPP
      PokerPPP
      Bronze
      Joined: 29.10.2009 Posts: 494
      Ban Op imo
    • murzius
      murzius
      Gold
      Joined: 02.07.2009 Posts: 131
      just try to win ;)
    • shanesmith
      shanesmith
      Global
      Joined: 17.07.2009 Posts: 202
      losing players will blame luck, winning players will say skill - simples.
    • redrawstump
      redrawstump
      Bronze
      Joined: 09.05.2012 Posts: 244
      @sk345di - surely the best 100 people at HU *are* the luckiest 100 in the world?!? :coolface:

      being super-serial though, it seems a bit strange that poker has to prove that it is not pure gambling. Isn't the whole basis of justice that one is innocent until proven guilty? If you want to outlaw poker as 'gambling' then it is incumbent on the prosecutor to prove it is gambling.
    • DarylFresch
      DarylFresch
      Basic
      Joined: 17.10.2014 Posts: 18
      I am newbie to poker and think skill is first to play then luck will come. That's why I have decided to learn the rules of poker properly. I am reading Poker by the Book and practicing it by playing more with free money to grow my skill.
    • VorpalF2F
      VorpalF2F
      Super Moderator
      Super Moderator
      Joined: 02.09.2010 Posts: 8,910
      Originally posted by DarylFresch
      I am newbie to poker and think skill is first to play then luck will come. That's why I have decided to learn the rules of poker properly. I am reading Poker by the Book and practicing it by playing more with free money to grow my skill.
      Hi, DarylFresch,
      Have a look at No Limit Hold'em lessons overview It lays out a very sensible progression through the required knowledge.

      Playing with the free money is very smart!

      Best of luck,
      VS
    • maythany
      maythany
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.10.2011 Posts: 1,189
      5% skill

      10% luck

      85% hard work
    • Kruppe
      Kruppe
      Black
      Joined: 20.02.2008 Posts: 2,144
      pick any number x between 0 and 100, and then tell me what the meaning of the statement 'poker is x% skill' is
      cause i don't think anybody knows wtf they mean by that

    • Agiz19
      Agiz19
      Bronze
      Joined: 19.03.2007 Posts: 1,097
      Originally posted by maythany
      5% skill

      10% luck

      85% hard work
      10% skill
      20% luck
      70% fpps
      _______________
      100% brainwashing :coolface:
    • VorpalF2F
      VorpalF2F
      Super Moderator
      Super Moderator
      Joined: 02.09.2010 Posts: 8,910
      Originally posted by Agiz19
      _______________
      100% brainwashing :coolface:
      I washed my brain this morning, now I can't do a thing with it :coolface:

      But seriously, there are a lot of games that involve a combination of luck and skill.
      Bridge, Hearts, Poker, Golf, Backgammon and so on.

      The luck is the same for everyone.
      The skill comes when you make the plays that allow you to take maximum advantage when the luck comes your way, and to minimize the losses when luck goes against you.

      You can't just put arbitrary percentages on the split[1]

      Peace,
      VS

      [1]Well, obviously you CAN assign arbitrary percentages to the luck and skill components -- it that they are almost always wrong, and constantly changing.
    • hoagy
      hoagy
      Silver
      Joined: 21.10.2014 Posts: 81
      I don't know which law the OP believes may be reformed, perhaps they would enlighten us with specifics?

      I think from a litigation point of view that although poker is a highly skilled game it is generally accepted that it is possible to play poker without using any skill whatsoever, whereas it is not possible to play poker without involving luck. Therefore luck will always play a part whereas skill may or may not. As such it would be difficult to argue any case before a judge and prove within reasonable doubt that skill was the most dominant factor in any particular hand, game, or tournament. In light of that and some other relevant factors I believe poker will be governed by gambling law, but is that a good thing or a bad thing for the players?
    • YohanN7
      YohanN7
      Bronze
      Joined: 15.06.2009 Posts: 4,086
      Having poker classified as a game of luck isn't that bad. In Sweden it means winnings are tax-free :)

      [There was a ruling not too long ago that tournaments are skill -> poker clubs organizing tourneys are more or less legal, while cash game is gambling -> poker clubs organizing cash games are more or less illegal. Don't know the current status of this.]
    • Thiamtan
      Thiamtan
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.02.2010 Posts: 1,088
      if you play spin and go are luck if Adenauer poker the are skill
    • kevsaf
      kevsaf
      Bronze
      Joined: 16.01.2009 Posts: 639
      Originally posted by Agiz19


      10% skill
      20% luck
      70% fpps
      _______________
      100% brainwashing :coolface:

      Almost peed in my pants1 :D
    • mineriva
      mineriva
      Bronze
      Joined: 30.04.2008 Posts: 913
      Originally posted by hoagy
      I don't know which law the OP believes may be reformed, perhaps they would enlighten us with specifics?

      I think from a litigation point of view that although poker is a highly skilled game it is generally accepted that it is possible to play poker without using any skill whatsoever, whereas it is not possible to play poker without involving luck. Therefore luck will always play a part whereas skill may or may not. As such it would be difficult to argue any case before a judge and prove within reasonable doubt that skill was the most dominant factor in any particular hand, game, or tournament. In light of that and some other relevant factors I believe poker will be governed by gambling law, but is that a good thing or a bad thing for the players?
      IMHO OP did not care about "which law may be reformed". His only intention was to attract attention to the link he posted and which was subsequently removed just before he was banned.
    • hoagy
      hoagy
      Silver
      Joined: 21.10.2014 Posts: 81
      Hi Mineriva.
      I didn't see the link in the original post but I think you are correct in that his motives were more personal rather than a care about the future outcome of poker from a players point of view. Most of his remarks were ambiguous for example this quote is presumptive and misleading.

      The point is that it is impossible to lose on purpose at a game of pure chance. If you play a simple game of dice with two players, one player wins each time an even number comes up and the other player likewise for odd numbers. There is no way to lose on purpose, as luck is the only factor that can determine the loser (assuming fair dice).
      This is true only if we assume a certain circumstance, A: if the opponents are playing without money (which is not gambling) or B: if they are playing on a restricted level stake playing field (which does not apply to poker), or C: The opponents are obliged to play odd or even an equal amount of times. In a play where a participant can vary or choose the stake they invest it is possible to influence their chance of making a profit or loss even in an odd/even dice game. For example a player after losing three dice rolls to evens may say I will give you five to one odds on the next throw for evens. In this situation our mathematical ability or skill to calculate the odds should influence whether we take the bet offered or not, because we make this choice the conclusion of the outcome no longer resides purely in luck or chance.

      Assumptive remarks carry little or no weight in litigation, as the judge of a court will only consider fact.
    • baisiazmogis
      baisiazmogis
      Bronze
      Joined: 02.11.2014 Posts: 1
      50%skill 50%lucky
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