Studies Prove Poker Skills Win

Published Thursday, April 02, 2009 -

Showing that skill wins out in a game of poker has proven very difficult for mathematicians. Poker players feel that it is a simple enough fact to grasp that poker is a game of skill not just luck. Huge quantities of data provided by online casinos is proving that skill is indeed required to win at playing poker.There is a continued hope this information will change the decisions made by lawmakers who think poker is pure gambling and thus illegal in certain situations.

Ingo Fiedler and Jan-Philipp Rock at the University of Hamburg's Institute of Law and Economics in Germany contend that earlier research methods such as theoretical model development and machines playing machines have not been sufficient enough to prove that skill is required.

Over three months, the pair recorded the outcomes of 55,000 online players playing millions of hands of, "no-limit Texas hold 'em". The defining line between skill and luck was sure to reveal itself eventually they proposed. Two factors were critical for the definition. One, they measured how much each player's winnings and losses fluctuated, the higher this variance, the greater the role of chance.Two, they measured the average value of a player's winnings or losses, highly skilled or terrible players would do noticeably better or worse than would be expected by chance alone.

The skill dominant threshold became evident at about 1000 hands, equivalent to about 33 hours of playing in person or 13 hours online, where the rate of play is faster. So although chance plays a role, they suggest that because most players easily play this many hands in a lifetime, poker is more a game of skill.

Mr.Fiedler said, "Our results should have greater impact on the legislators than the results of other studies; they refer to reality,"

A computer scientist at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Sean McCulloch is also exploring skill and chance in poker. Together, with Paco Hope from software consultancy firm Cigital in Washington DC, they looked at 103 million hands of Texas hold 'em played at a popular online gaming site. The conclusion was again skill as a dominant factor in playing poker. It is hoped that these studies will way in on the positive side when judges and juries decide whether poker is a game requiring skill or just luck.

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