Sunday, January 1, 2012

Poker Actually Is a Game of Skill

In this column I tried to give my thoughts on the recent events that damaged the reputation of poker, whether it is the online or live genre. Is poker actually gambling or strategy? You decide.

I guess everyone knows by now about the UIGEA, the Kentucky case, the 60 Minutes story, the Netherlands issue and so on. They are all against the concept of poker basically, as they consider it to be a game of luck, a game that players can wrongfully exploit, a game that causes gambling addiction and the list goes on.

However, this is usually the script we get from anyone who has not been involved with poker be it online, at the casinos/special events or simply at home, with friends. They consider that the luck factor is too great, making skill look like an insignificant issue. If that would be the case, then why do we have almost the same players winning the major events?

If the Kentucky judge would be right, then Doyle Brunson with his 10 WSOP bracelets is one of the luckiest men on the planet and he should simply play the lottery instead of taking part in all those poker tournaments. Same thing can be said about Daniel Negreanu, whose amazing reads still make me think he's not from Earth.

The problem is that the law looks at poker from only one perspective: a pair of aces beats a pair of kings, so the player who is lucky enough to have the aces will win. Poker is so much more than that and everyone who plays it knows this. Concepts like bluffing, reading, or even human psychology.

Poker is not really about having the best hand, but more about playing your opponents: there are cases when you want them to think you have a good hand when you don't, so you can steal some pots and there are cases when you want to seem weak so you can get more money from them. This is not gambling anymore – it's strategy. It's the best player, not the best hand, that wins.

If we take a look at the poker pros nowadays, we see that they are also well educated people, with most of them specialized in Math-related areas; it is obviously not a coincidence, since poker is a game of odds, probabilities and statistics. These people are good with numbers and that helped them in their game – where is the luck in this?

Sure, since poker is a game of incomplete information, luck can occur – your aces can lose to a pair of deuces that later morph into a set, for example. But in the long run, you will win – that's what statistics are for. Actually, the fact that poker relies on collecting as much information as possible from your opponent makes it that much more strategic and interesting at the same time: try having a game between a player who read poker strategies from books, the Internet or any other reliable source and a player who just knows the rules. No matter how much luck the second player has, the one who studied strategies wins in the long run. If this weren't the case, books about poker strategies would not be written, poker professionals would not give advices and even our site would not be alive. Just the fact that you are reading this column on this site is an extra proof that poker is indeed a game of skill and not luck.

This article is from

1 comments: said...

Bonito artículo, que has compartido aquí sobre el Poker. Su artículo es muy informativo y útil para aquellos que estén interesados en saber más sobre el póker. Gracias por compartir este artículo aquí. loteria nacional dominicana