PokerJunkie > Blog > Poker and law > Poker is Not a Game of Skill

Poker is Not a Game of Skill

19 August 2009, By: compncards
supremecourtphoto 2006 300x240
supremecourtphoto 2006 300x240

Recently an appeals court in Colorado overturned a decision by a jury that poker is a game of skill. Back in January, Kevin Raley was found not guilty of illegal gambling after his bar league was raided in August 2008. The trial allowed expert testimony from Dr. Robbert Hannum, a professor from the University of Denver, to support that poker was a game of skill.

Chief Judge James Hartman said the following “while poker…might involve some skill, these games certainly are contingent ‘in part’ upon chance, and when, as here, the games involve risking a thing of value for gain, they constitute a form of gambling.”

The judge's statement is similar to what I have said in the past will be a big stumbling block in getting poker fully classified as a game of skill. The game does involve a degree of luck. A contest that is truly a contest of skill involves much less luck than you see in poker, especially in tournaments.

For example, the game of pool involves a lot more skill at the higher levels than poker. A person can't hope to win a pool tournament by making a few lucky shots. However, a poker player can. An the player cannot control how the flop, turn, and river fall. In pool, you can control the way your ball bounces or moves around the table depending on the amount of english, spin, etc that you put on the ball.

Chess is a game of skill. A player cannot play haphazardly and hope to win the game. A solid play will wipe the floor with him. However, how many times have you seen someone consistently play junk cards and go on a nice run. Granted, over time the player will be a loser playing like this, but there is enough of a luck factor to where many people will have a hard time seeing this game as a game of skill.

Is poker a game of skill? Of course it is. Is it a game of skill on the same level as pool or chess? No. While I am comparing apples and oranges, this is the type of mentality many lawmakers will take and why its going to be very tough to sell poker as a game of skill.

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  • Frank 14/03/2010 3:40pm (9 years ago)

    This is an old post I stumbled on but think it is very accurate. Another comparasion I like to make is fishing tournaments. They are legal every where and yet there is a large amount of luck to these. The worlds best anglers can have all the skill, knowledge and equipment and still not get the big one. It is dependant on the fish really, whether or not it bites. But people do not see it in this way

  • Syncloolf 25/11/2009 1:38am (9 years ago)

    Many of folks write about this issue but you wrote down some true words.