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Poker Article: Is Poker a Game of Chance or Skill ?
A "skill game" is defined as a game whose outcome can be achieved from some mental or physical (or combination of
the two) reasons, and not by an outcome left to chance. Historically, poker has been described as a game
of chance. In actuality, poker is more of a game of skill than chance.
The 2006 United States legislation knwon as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA, stipulated that
poker was a game of chance and could not be exempt from this law (it prohibits the funding of online poker sites
using the vehicles of the U.S. banking system), whereas other games such as online Fantasy Sports was exempt from it,
due to its qualification as a skill-level game.
The game of Chess is unquestionably regards to be totally skill-based, and is the barometer for skill-based games.
Poker certainly cannot be considered as skill-based as chess, since there is an element of luck to the game (that is,
the random dealing of cards), but nonetheless, it has significant skill-based attributes associated with it, which
clearly delineate it as a game of skill. Here are some of the major reasons why poker is considered a game of skill:
- Success Probability - As a very mathematical game, there are well-defined probabilities of winning a poker hand, after you
receive your 2 hole cards in Texas Holdem (for example). As a player, if you are cognizant of these probabilities, this
can guide you to deciding whether you fold or decide to play your hand further into the game. This mathematical aspect
to the game, certainly indicates how poker is a skill game.
- Bluffing - A player's ability to bluff his opponent (perhaps raising a bet or deciding to stay in a game) is a mental
aspect associated with poker being a skill game. Additionally, there are physical aspects to bluffing such as staring,
winking, sweating, etc., that add a sense of physical evidence that plays a part in poker's skill game.
- Betting - Aside from bluffing stragies employed, the way players wager in poker are usually reflective of their
cognitive abilities to reason that they have a chance to win the game or not. Players must analyze their hand, in
conjunction with estimating the worth of their opponents' hands, and this determines typically whether a player will
wager a bet or not. All of these mental skills help promote poker as a game of skill.
- Blinds - Players must take into consideration whether they are part of the small or big blind, when deciding whether to
stay in a hand or not. A player may decide to stay in a hand longer than normal, if they have already allocated money
towards a blind. Again, this mental aspect of poker, point it to being a skill game.
- Seating - You seating assignment, relative to the Dealer, provides you with a decision as to whether or not you stay in a
hand or not. If you are closer to the dealer, you may be more inclined to stay in a hand, rather than if you are the first
person to bet in a hand. These mental issues help contribute to poker's skill game.
- Know Your Opponent - Understanding your opponents' track record, understanding how they react in certain situations, and
understanding physical signals that may be given, all play into the physical and mental aspects of poker as a skill game.
- Cards - Understanding which cards are in on the table, and which of these are "owned" by your opponents, clearly plays into
your decision-making process as to whether you stay in a hand and/or bet. Keeping track of played cards, and using that
information to determine odds of you receiving a certain card, are skill attributes that come into play with poker.
In short, from the above, it has been clearly stated that poker is much, much more than a game of luck. There are many
aspects to the game (both mental and physical) that clearly depict it as a game of skill.
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Is Poker a Game of Chance or Skill ?