Gambling games are known for being based on good fortune, but can we say the same for poker? People who have never played poker tend to chalk it off to just another luck-based casino game, much like baccarat and, to an extent, blackjack. Poker connoisseurs will argue that one only has to play poker for a short while to understand what makes poker a game of skill. Who is right? Let’s find out together.
WHAT IS GAMBLING?
The term ‘gambling’ refers to the act of putting forth a certain amount of money to predict the outcome of a game or situation. The concept of gambling covers a wide range of scenarios, including playing slot machines, purchasing lottery tickets and even placing a bet among friends.
We know what you’re thinking right now: is poker considered gambling? The short answer is yes. The long one? It’s complicated.
IS POKER A GAME OF SKILL OR CHANCE?
The truth about poker is that the game treads a fine line between luck and skill, but both elements are crucial for a player’s success. The luck factor is almost as strong as the skill factor, as we’ll explain below.
Keep in mind that in online poker, players take on each other and not the dealer. This means that the house takes a cut from each pot — unlike what happens in other games, where a mathematical edge is factored into each round, thus making it impossible to beat the house edge in the long term.
The key takeaway from this is that in order to financially compensate for the losing hands and house advantage, players must rely on more than just short-term luck.
GOOD FORTUNE WILL EVENTUALLY END
The number of poker hands you play will determine how much of your performance is based on luck or skill. Inexperienced poker players could see some short-term success thanks to luck, but it’s very likely that their success will fizzle out the longer they keep on playing. In fact, the only way to calculate your win rate in poker is by calculating your success and failure over a high volume of games.
STUDYING HELPS WIN RATE
It is said that your time away from the poker table is almost as important as your time spent at the table. Pro poker players tighten up their game not just by playing poker, but also by reading about it and watching professional poker players in action. This is a great way to refine their poker skills and weed out their reliance on luck to win hands as much as possible.
MATH WINS IN THE LONG TERM
Poker is a game of probability, and poker success comes from making the correct decisions based on what cards you think other players are holding. A professional poker player has seen enough hands to have an edge over a weaker player, thus being able to make decisions based on statistical probability. Although bad players could beat skilful players with pocket aces, chances are that they won’t see much of that success in the long run.
WHEN IS POKER A GAME OF LUCK, AND WHEN IS IT BASED ON SKILL?
Bad luck can render even the most skilled players helpless. In the context of Texas hold‘em, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to avoid defeat if a player hits a lucky card on the turn or river. No amount of correct decisions will net you the pot in such scenarios — in fact, the only correct decision would be to fold instead of placing more money in the pot.
Luck plays an indisputable role in poker, but it isn’t the backbone of a winning player. In fact, the significant difference between a good player and a weak player is that the former has honed their skill level through consistent exposure to the game.
This means that, over time, said player refined their decision-making capabilities to know what the right option is in most scenarios — whether it is to bluff, call a bluff or fold. This is what makes poker a skill game and not a toss-of-a-coin type of game.
WHEN DOES POKER BECOME A GAME OF SKILL?
As we’ve frequently underscored thus far, there is a lot of luck involved in the game of poker — but to what end? A study has been made in order to answer precisely that. As it turns out, poker becomes a game of skill after roughly 1,500 hands. More specifically, a skilled player can beat unskilled players around 75% of the time within a total of 1,500 hands.
What exactly does that mean? Will poker players be able to dazzle Las Vegas with their poker prowess and haul in truckloads of money after surpassing the 1,500 hand mark? Not exactly. That statistic simply serves to show that poker is a game where skill eventually triumphs over luck after a certain time frame.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF POKER IS JUST LUCK OR SKILL?
So far, we’ve identified that both luck and skill are a staple of poker, but where can we draw the line between the two? It is said that luck constitutes as much as 80% in poker during the early stages — quite a fair share of the game, to say the least. However, poker becomes 100% based on skill in the long run. If these statistics reveal anything, it is that the only time luck outshines skill is in the short term. The bottom line? Skill will always prevail in poker.
IS LUCK A MYTH IN POKER?
Although good fortune is a significant factor in poker, it isn’t generally believed that it can favour certain people in particular — at least, within the poker scene. In fact, clinging to good fortune won’t improve your game by any measure, which is why most experienced players vouch for practice and research instead.
Whether poker is a game of skill or just luck is a debate that will outlive us all. Nevertheless, the only real way to up your winning hands and decrease your losing-hand frequency is to practise. If poker has one right strategy, it most certainly is that.
Should you want to start playing poker online and add more know-how to your game, feel free to check out EnergyCasino’s poker tables. We’ve got a plethora of poker variants for you to explore, perfect for both the highly skilled and the newbies. If you form part of the latter category, remember that the road to big wins in poker comes from consistent practice and responsible play.