Poker lots of luck or serious skill?

For many years, poker players around the world have never wondered whether their much loved game was full of skill or simply just bags of luck. Most poker players join their friends after a day at work and play poker, thinking only about having a good time and winning the next hand. However, due to the increased publicity in recent years surrounding the game of poker, many professionals have been asking whether poker is predominantly a luck or a skill game.

Depending on who is asked, the answer to the question will vary. Most professional poker players will argue that poker is a game that is played almost solely with a strategy, making it a skill based game and involving only a minor amount of luck, no more so than any general sporting event, such as football or cricket. These professional poker players rely on poker as a living, earning their money by using their skill to play poker. Ask non players of the game however and the answer could be quite different, as for those who do not play poker, it can often be seen as a game dependant on the players luck, no player can predict what cards they or their opponents are going to be dealt or how their opponents are going to play.

The primary reason why people are looking for a defined answer to whether poker is a game of skill or luck is if it is considered a game of luck or chance, then it is seen as gambling. Whilst most people would automatically see poker as gambling, if it were brought up in a court of law, which it has been several times in recent years, then it can affect the outcome of the case considerably. For example, a man was recently accused of operating an illegal gambling ring by playing poker, for money, with his friends. When this was taken to court, the prosecutors were overruled as their was enough evidence to suggest, in this exact case, that poker is a game of skill and the victim was therefore simply arranging a night of entertainment with his friends. If the judge had ruled hat poker was a game of chance, then it would have been considered gambling and the man in question could have faced several years in prison, accompanied by a substantial fine.

Recent studies have been carried out by the Computer Poker Research Group, in which several members took the play and results of over 50,000 different online poker players, resulting in millions of different poker games. The first point they wanted to consider was the number of wins and losses each player had. Their argument was that the greater these figures varied, the great chance there was that poker is based on skill. In addition to this, they wanted to measure the value of each players wins and losses, with the theory being that those players who were experienced at the game would do considerably better than those who were not, showing an obvious split in terms of skill.

Whilst the results of the experiment were not conclusive, they did show that, to the pleasure of many professional poker players, that overall and over several hands of poker, skill is the dominant force in the game. Although chance does play a role, especially in early hands of a game, skill is the primary ingredient to a successful poker game.