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Poker Bill

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.

7 Responses to “Poker Bill”

  1. Gregory Morris Says:

    If it wasn’t a game of skill, I’d win when I play with my buddies! The only time I ever won was playing strip poker in college, and that’s because I cheated. Clearly, there is some luck involved, but a lousy player will still lose in a tournament setup to a good player 99% of the time.

  2. drstrangegun Says:

    If poker isn’t a game of skill because of the luck involved, then what is professional bass fishing?

  3. SayUncle Says:

    I made that same argument a while back. And NASCAR, Football, etc.

  4. T Says:

    I could swear that at one time California law considered draw poker as a game of skill, and therefore not gambling, while stud was a game of chance and therefore illegal.

  5. Mike Stanton Says:

    2 fallacies …

    The Laws of Probability, often misnomered as “luck”, should be applied GENERALLY (long-term, overall results) – as opposed to SPECIFICALLY (an individual hand, tournament or even an isolated period of time. Logic is a science and one of the primary Informal Fallacies in Logic is “proving” the General by a Specific example (or vice versa).

    e.g., “The Native American is disappearing. That man is a Native American. Therefore, that man is disappearing ….”

    There are “upsets” at every level of every athletic endeavor, every day … that does not change the fact that Golf, e.g., is a game of skill – nor does it make Trevor Immelman more skillful than Tiger Woods, just because he won the Master’s this year.

    Moreover, essentially any event in life can be attributed to “luck.” (good or bad) How you met your spouse, having a fender bender, finding a “perfect” house, being born to millionaire parents (or homeless drug addicts) … are we going to criminalize all life experiences that involve good or bad fortune?

    Being dealt pocket aces, in itself, conforms to the Laws of Probability and whether they win or lose does not reallly address the essence of the skill required to win at poker.

    Specific cards / hands are, at best, tertiary in importance … analysyes – and action on – situation, position, stack size, opponents’ tendencies, etc. define the element of skill that is poker.

    Senator Bill Frist, well-known criminal (insider trader), engineered the unenforceable and totally immoral law that cost English investors over $6 Billion on the London Stock Exchange.

    IF poker is a game of “luck” and simply a matter of who get what cards, then we’d all lose 10% rake and be essentially tied in winnings. Many of us win or lose consistently and have for years. This defies the Scientific Laws of Probability.

    I have challenged friends who don’t know the game and do believe in “luck” – and I’ll make the same challenge to Frist or any ignorant political crusader that relies on the “luck of the draw” and wants to run my life.

    Heads Up – Or as a Group – We each start with 100 chips. Mine cost me $500, there’s cost them $100. Every time someone busts, we start over with the same 100 chip stack. We play until I say quit.

    Amazingly, these same friends say that it’s just “luck”, respond: “Hell, no, you’re a good player!”

  6. SayUncle Says:

    There’s a difference between luck/probability overall than in one specific instance. E.g., i recently lost shy of the money in a live tourney to a guy who caught running threes for the win. that’s like 0.03% or something ridiculous. I’m not disputing that. But that is why you’ll have trouble convincing a jury/judge.

  7. Dan Says:

    I dunno, Payton Manning probably could consistently throw a football very well, but how many times you going to hit a gut-shot straight during the river?

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

Uncle Pays the Bills

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