Poker: Game of Chance or Skill?

Poker - a Game of Chance or Skill

There is no question about poker being one of the most popular card games in the world. Since it gained even more popularity with the growth of iGaming market, there were some questions raised regarding the card game. One of which is whether poker is a game of chance or a game of skill.

Although it sounds like a somewhat philosophical question, the answer might be more important than we think. Gambling laws, especially regarding online gambling, can restrict poker playing depending on the skill or chance distinction.

A Game of Chance

We should look into both stands in order to see which category the game falls into. Poker has been considered a game of chance ever since its inception in the early 19th century. Early poker games originated on Mississippi riverboats, and soon enough variations were created and the game spread across America.

By the 20th century, poker was thoroughly associated with gambling and even involved large tournaments and cash prizes. The World Series of Poker started in 1970 and turned poker into a popular national pastime for Americans. However, things change for this popular table game in the 21st century as online poker showed that winning in poker relies heavily on skill.

In the short run, anyone can win during a single session or even in a tournament, meaning there is some luck involved in poker. However, in the long run, good players win while bad players lose, which is probably not a coincidence.

A Game of Skill

Any poker player would agree that the game requires deep logical thinking and careful analysis of other players’ behavior. Through practicing, training, and learning the game’s rules, anyone can learn how to play poker and how to win often. Poker is much more than just luck, it is an art that requires many hours of practice to master.

Poker not only involves mathematics and probabilities but also psychology. Professional players spend hours analyzing their hands and determining the odds of winning based on previous games. Their position at the table also matters and even the behavior of other players.

It is hard to believe that such professionals owe their tremendous success to chance only. While luck certainly has its role, it plays a small part in the long run. Poker is more of a competitive strategy game influenced primarily by skill.

Why the Confusion?

So, how did it come to people being confused on whether poker is a game of luck or skill? Well, one of the reasons is that plenty of people relate poker to other games they may find at a casino lobby. At top US poker sites, you’ll find countless games of chance, such as roulette, blackjack, craps, and others, so it is only natural for people to assume live poker also relies on luck, like these games.

The reality, of course, is a bit different. Poker offers a far different gaming experience than, let’s say blackjack. Even though in both games you decide whether to take another card or not. So, the environment in which video poker is most commonly played shapes people’s opinions on the matter.

On the other hand, we can’t neglect the fact that poker is ultimately a game of mathematics. Skill will win out more often than not. The most talented players are able to work out their chance of success just by looking at their cards. Also, we must mention bluffing as a vital part of a successful poker player and this isn’t something everyone is good at. Whether you are bluffing about the cards you have or reading the tell of another player, there is a level of skill involved that not everyone can bring to the table.


Overall, we have determined that the key to winning at poker is to make sure that you are making the right decisions when you are at a statistical advantage and when you are at a statistical disadvantage. This is not something that an unskilled player is able to do, given the need to understand the statistical likelihoods of different outcomes.

So, to simplify, poker is a game of skill. Just like an athlete, craftsperson, or a student, working hard and improving your skill you can see positive changes. In the short term, we can all suffer from bad luck, but over time it is the skill that brings us the success we deserve. Ultimately, whether you are playing at an online poker venue or a land-based establishment poker will always be a game of skill.

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