For some, this question is moot. What does it matter why you are winning as long as you’re winning, right? Wrong. While it is true that the important thing in poker is winning, the “why” behind the win is equally important. If you want to repeat your victory in poker, you’ll have to know how you achieved it in the first place. The question of whether poker is a game of skill or chance is a common one. Gambling does rely on luck but good judgement will always increase one’s success.
This issue is also pertinent on a wider, social scale. Some people think that poker – like slots – is a mere game of chance. If so, then it would be right to include poker in the ban made by the United States government against payments towards online games of chance.
So which is it: is poker primarily a game of chance or a game of skill?
The Importance of Skill in Poker
There’s no question that poker is a game where skill is very important. You’ll decide whether or not to hold on to your hole cards and wait for the flop. Will you play it slowly or not? Should you check, call or raise? How much should you bet? Indeed, decisions and strategy characterize any hand of online poker.
You need to know probabilities. What is the probability that you will draw a good card? What are the odds of winning versus the odds of losing? You also need a good head for math. How much do you stand to win and how much do you stand to lose if you stay in the round?
The ability to understand and form inferences from hand and player histories in poker is also invaluable. Then of course, you need to be good at reading player poker tells – even online. What are the chances that your opponent is holding a nut? Was that long silence from your opponent a good or bad sign?
Poker: More than just Skill
An argument can be made about poker being mainly a game of chance. Perhaps, this is true for newbies who have nothing more than a lucky draw in the arsenal. However, you must remember that while you may win in poker through sheer luck at cards, you can not sustain your victory on luck alone. Poker is a bluffing game: someone can bluff you out of a sure win if he is skillful enough.
Luck helps in poker – so poker is not merely about skill. However, it is still first and foremost a game of skill.