Is Poker a game of skill, or just another gamble?
It’s the question that everyone has a theory on, but no-one will every truly know which answer is correct; is poker a game of skill or luck? Games such as roulette have a strong argument for being a game of luck, given the wheel is spun by somebody you have no affiliation with and the fact it could end up on any number, but poker is one that has a lot of human variables, as the game is played out against fellow players, rather than the house.
The first thing you must consider when taking up any game, not just poker, is the rules and strategies that can be used in the game. Betting on anything without knowing a thing about it, yet still coming off a winner, is considered luck, but if you know a thing about the rules and what goes on in the game, then you immediately have an argument that you won because of skill and know-how, rather than simply chancing your arm.
Once you have studied the rules, then it is best to play in some low-stakes, if any stakes at all, games in order to enhance your skills. Learning how and when to make a successful bet may be one of the simpler aspects in a game of poker, but if you consistently make false moves and incorrect decisions, then there is simply no disputing that your skill has let you down whilst playing the game.
In other cases however, you could make a high bet that will seemingly lose you a lot of money, until the next card in the flop comes out and you avoid falling one card short of a magnificent hand. This would be a case of luck, as it is incredibly hard to determine whether any skill surrounded the decision to make a bet that occurred prior to the later events of the flop.
Another common myth surrounding poker and the skill/luck argument is that of streaks. If players believe they are on a ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ streak, then it is highly likely they are playing off the basis of their luck at that particular time. A player of skill would avoid keeping track of past outcomes, which can be potentially dangerous to players and use autonomy to determine each and every one of their playing decisions, rather than deciding on what has happened earlier in the game.
Another consideration is that of other player variables. If you are able to ‘bluff’ your way to victory against other players, then that can be considered an art of skill, as you have manipulated a poker situation into your favour, when card rankings determine you would have otherwise seen defeat.
It is likely that we will never know what the true cause of success in poker is, but it appears that there is a great deal of skill required to play consistently at the top level. If you can remain at the top for a long time, well, that’s just lucky!