Rich notes HR 2610, the Skill Game Protection Act, which would classify poker as a game of skill and exempt it from Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Currently, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act doesn’t even define the illegal gambling it regulates so it could come up as someone’s defense that poker is not gambling and is a game of skill. But that’s gonna be a tough sell. Sure, a skilled player will, on average, make money. But there is an ever present element of luck. If there wasn’t, then there would be no fish.
Overall, the game involves skill but luck is the difference between someone winning a big tournament and not. Don’t believe me? Then let’s play a fun game. It’s a tournament and, lucky you, you will be dealt pocket aces every time. Great! Sign me up! But pocket aces against a random hand still only wins about 85 percent of the time. If you play ten hands in a row, you will lose 1.5 of those hands on average. To win, you’ve probably got to not lose some of that 15 percent of the time. And that involves some luck.
More realistically, though, is that you’ll often be getting all your chips in when you’re about a 70 percent favorite and your hand will have to hold up more often than odds dictate to win a big tournament.
For the record, I think poker is a game of skill but whether or not a court of law would buy it is questionable. So, defining it in the law wouldn’t hurt.
Update and bump: Seems that typing percent signs in wordpress breaks my comment function. Hence, the bump.