One of the longest-running debates surrounding poker is whether the game is one of skill or one of pure luck. Indeed, even the American government argue that poker is pure gambling whilst others classify poker as a mind sport.
So is poker a game of skill or is it governed by luck? The actual answer is both, which probably does not help but let me explain.
Looking at the leaderboards for online Texas Holdem tournaments and cash games it is always the same players who are there. Legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Scotty Nguyen are some of the most profitable tournament players of all time. Are they simply luckier than everyone else? Surely not.
Poker is a game that, in the long term, is based on skill but is massively affected in the short-term by luck. It is unique in that even the worst player in the world can take on the best and beat them on a given day. But if the two opposites play for long enough the good player will take all the weak player’s money.
Becoming a great poker player requires more than a lucky hand. It comes from years of practice and accumulating knowledge. Learning strategies and skills beyond depending on a good draw. Do you know how to blind steal? Or how to read the tells your opponents are displaying? What are the really great hands or even, the worst hands? How does your position at the table affect your decision making?
Behind all the attempts to read players and making bluffs, poker is a game based on mathematics. Think about the odds and probabilities of cards arriving on the next turn or not. This is why poker, in the short term, is a game of luck because you have a set chance a card you need will come or not. But in the long term, as the mathematics converge to the norm, skill starts to be the dominant force in play.
Online players can often forge an advantage, simply because of the vast number of hands they can rack up. This means that the online players are less likely to be winning due to variance and more due to the fact they are beating the game. But casino poker players have the ability to read other players far better.
Ultimately you can’t teach luck but if you want to improve your game you have to learn the skill. We have plenty of guides and helpful strategies in our poker section here. Read up and learn the basics before you head to the casino. And if you fancy trying your hand at poker, make sure it is at a reputable and trustworthy casino.
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