Just as the question of chicken or egg – which came first, is often debated, so in playing circles, the question that often arises is whether poker is a game of skill or that of luck?
Piggybacking on this question is a doubt of moral conscience that keeps popping into the minds of those deft at this game, as the horns of dilemma lead to whether one is a patron of gambling or likes to showcase one’s mastery of skills! Since big money is involved, this bearing weighs heavily. This question also becomes vital in order to view the game of poker as legally permissible, especially in the areas where law prohibits gambling because while a game of skill is out of the legal purview of gambling, a game of chance isn’t.
Anyone familiar with the nuances of the game will surely vouch for the fact that Poker indeed is a game of skill, not luck; a fact well supported by landmark judgment in New York in 2012, where the city court upheld this view.
Luck…so far only!
Luck can decide what cards are dealt out to each player in a hand, but it is certainly skill that decides HOW the player leverages the cards for a win/loss. It requires experience, mind-reading ability and a sound judgement the psychology of the opponents that can make a seasoned player decide whether to hold on to the cards, or let go. It is the skill and the judgement of being able to read between actions taken by other players, that guides a player’s next move. So, clearly you can’t count on luck to emerge a winner!
Can numbers nail it?
If luck were the predominant factor, then the rules of probability (or complex derivatives thereof) would be able to mathematically justify how the game takes shape. But time and again, the pundits of poker prediction (and there are loads of them out there, what with such high stakes of moneys doing the rounds in poker circles!) have proved wrong, because no math can significantly predict the workings of the human mind! That’s proof enough for the argument that poker indeed is skill-based, more than luck!
A number of studies have also proved poker’s strong inclination towards skill. In 2009, a study by Cigital on 103 million cards dealt on PokerStars, revealed that 75% cards dealt never made it to showdown, clearly validating that it was the skills of people betting on the dealt cards which decided the final outcome.
Discipline, not an art!
Mastering poker requires disciplined study, detailed planning, and structured playing. In fact poker is unique, since gambling means the house or gambling den (e.g. casino) can take away your stakes in their favor. But in poker it only provides service and one player can win at the expense of others. Statistically, every player has an equal chance of winning, but it’s skill that tilts the game in their favour!
Just like any other game!
Poker is as much a game of skill as golf, stock trading, cricket or bridge! Each of these games involves some risk, and of course also luck by your side, but it is your skill on how to play out the actual situations that turn the game around. People have made entire careers out of poker successes, similar to other sports where players prove their mettle and mastery in their respective areas.
Allows for willing Losing
It is possible to lose a game of poker if a player so desires. A game of pure chance cannot be in your control for losing! Only skill can decide that! Similarly it is the skill that decides whether the game can be won and the player with the best skills wins!
A final word!
Hence a deal of poker is not some random money changing round such as the popular slot machine. It is a well-thought of game of strategy that requires skillful thinking!
So go ahead, enjoy the game and let it hone and sharpen your mind, increase your concentration and make you more alert, just like those glitzy brain exercises! A thriving and thrilling world awaits you; one that can help you make money (lots of it!!!) and famous too, provided you get the right skills and practice!