Monday, February 22, 2010

Poker - Skill or Chance ?

I have always wondered if in poker – skill or chance matter. In December 2008, the eastern division of the Danish High Court ruled that poker is a game of chance. There have been similar rulings elsewhere wherein poker has been defined by law to be a game of pure luck, where the player has very little chance to influence the gaming. Even the scientific fraternity has also challenged the long-held notion that poker is a game of luck, where instruction and strategy are immaterial - by showing that the card game is based on pure skill. Poker : Skill or Chance?

In 2008, Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student from Case Western Reserve University, had 41 college students play eight games, totaling 200 hands, of Texas Hold'em, a computerized simulation of 10-player Hold'em poker. Overall most of the students had little experience playing poker. Half of the students in the first group were given charts that ranked the two-card combinations from best to the worst and also learned that professional poker players typically play about 15 percent of the hands dealt them. The other group was given background on the history of poker with no strategies. The findings were that students given some strategies and basic online poker rules to make decisions did better than those without the strategies.

To statistically verify the results from the first study, DeDonno conducted a second study, but had students play 720 hands. Again the group was divided into those provided with strategies and those with just a history of playing poker. While all students improved their playing with practice over the large number of hands, the group given strategies continued to do better than those without the added information. With this he was able to prove that skill wins out in playing poker. Poker : Skill or Chance?

Personally speaking I question the very idea of poker being a game of luck alone. It may take a couple of hours to learn a game such as Texas Hold'em in theory. Hand rankings and game play is pretty much standard save a few variations on rules and regulations. However it takes a lifetime of playing to really master it. Poker – Skill or chance looks to be a continuing debate for me. The existence of professional players proves that chance is not the determining factor, skill and dedication is. In the game of cricket any and I really mean any idiot who can swing a bat has a chance of hitting the ball but only a few can use the bat as a professional can. Also one would not find countless poker strategy books or web pages devoted purely to poker strategies.

A poker game is not won merely by the strength of your hand. A poker player needs to consider a lot of indicators - tells, pot odds, probabilities . before deciding on a move. A brilliant player could even make a statistically incorrect play in-order to fool the opponents into thinking that he has a stronger hand.

So, Poker -Skill or Chance ? ….the debate goes on.


  1. chance has a great impact in poker tournaments, you always find at least one hand where odds are not respected

  2. Courts sometimes have subjective reasons to make laws. The defendant in question used poker being a game of strategy as a defense in a gambling suit. The Danish High Court was then forced to make the decision to win the case. There's more to it, but I won't bore your readers.

    I agree with Rodolfo, but I look at it like this...If you rely on chance, you may win a hand or even a tournament. Knowledge of a reasonable amount of strategy though, will increase a player's opportunities to last longer tournament by tournament.

    All players need luck, but lasting longer and placing more improves players rankings, and separates amateurs from pros.

  3. "A poker game is not won merely by the strength of your hand. A poker player needs to consider a lot of indicators - tells, pot odds, probabilities ."

    I agreed becoz i think that huslter will be able to guess a rookie hand and act accordingly no matter how good his hand is.

  4. I personally believe that Poker is a game of Skill. This is one of the most popular game that can be won by using skills. Though in case of online Poker the weightage given to skill lowers down. This is because you are not able to read the face or mind of your opponents. But in case of table games, a good Poker player can win a game with the help of skills, mathematics and calculation of probabilities.


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