Poker is a Game of Skill

Yes, poker is a game of skill. Of course, it’s not a 100% skill game and involves a fair amount of luck. Poker players know that the long game is what counts, and the more skilled you are at poker, the more you’ll win in the long run. Anyone can win in the short term with a good slice of luck. You know that already though, right?

You might know this, but I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day who doesn’t know the first thing about poker. I explained that if they played in the tournament I was playing later that day, they could win it – even without knowing how to play poker. Of course they’d need to be extremely lucky, and it would be unlikely, but still possible. Compare that with 100% skill games, such as chess. I don’t play chess, and I could never beat the current chess world champion. It just wouldn’t happen. But my friend could beat Phil Ivey, if he got luck (my friend that is, not Ivey).

I think it was Phil Hellmuth who said “if there was no luck in poker, I’d win everytime”. When I play poker and lose to someone who I think is a poor player because of sheer bad luck, I often wish poker was a game with more skill and less about the luck. “Why can’t this game involve more skill” I say to myself, though not in the same way that Hellmuth would. That’s because if poker were a game of 100% skill then I’m certain I wouldn’t win everytime. There are better poker players out there, and I wouldn’t win everytime.  

The rare moments when I suck out and crack someones hand with a piece of cheese, I love the fact that poker involves luck. The fact that poker involves large elements of luck is what also attracts some really bad players – those who like to gamble. These poker players add huge value to the game, and if poker were a game of pure skill then I think I’d probably stop playing. After all, it’s what makes the game of poker so exciting.

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