How Is Poker A Game Of Skill?

  • October 25, 2023
  • 5 min read
How Is Poker A Game Of Skill?

There is no doubt that chance is an essential condiment, as in almost all sports, but, in no way, defining. In Poker, skill prevails over luck.


How Is Poker A Game Of Skill?

One of the most discussed topics in recent times is linked to the classification of Poker as a mental or chance game. Is Poker a thinking game? However, at this point in the debate and by evaluating the numerous analyses and events that have occurred, we can affirm, without a doubt, that Poker is a sport.

So, is Poker a psychological game?

Studies commissioned by the IPF (International Poker Federation) demonstrate, with solid scientific arguments, that skill prevails over luck. There is no doubt that chance is an essential condiment, as in almost all sports, but, in no way, defining. It could be stated that except in chess or Go, in all games, to a greater or lesser extent, chance plays its role, even in those of physical skill.

In golf, for example, a bad shot can hit an obstacle and bounce to a good position or a bad one, and the number of additional strokes derived from that circumstance can define a tournament.

In soccer, the difference between a ball “hitting the stick” and entering the goal is insignificant from a metric perspective, and the result does not depend on the skill of the kicker.

In tennis, whether a ball that hits the net falls on one side or the other depends on luck (who doesn’t remember the first scene of “Match Point,” the famous Woody Allen movie). And so we could list hundreds of examples.

How Is Poker A Game Of Skill?

If we throw a coin in the air once, it will come out heads or heads, pure chance. However, if we roll it a hundred times, the number of opportunities in which one alternative will come up will equalize, and if we roll it an infinite number of times, it will be the same. It is a mathematical law.

This, replicated in Poker, means that chance can help us win a game, a tournament, or even more than one, but in the long term, luck tends to be the same for everyone. And these conceptualizations must necessarily be measured with that perspective, that of the long term.

Is Poker A Thinking Game?

However, this does not mean we can ignore or fail to recognize that there are often good or bad “streaks,” times in which everything goes well and others in which, no matter what we do, everything goes wrong.

In short, it is undeniable that some are luckier or more graceful than others, and, as is often heard, some people have more luck than brains. This issue has also been addressed on many occasions in court. 

The case arose after the organizers of a Texas Hold ’em tournament were accused of violating gambling laws. In the first instance, those responsible were found guilty and imprisoned. The attorney general then requested the attention of the Supreme Court. This debate was of vital importance since, according to the country’s laws, there must be a “considerable degree” of influence of chance for gambling to be illegal.

The defense argued that the tournament’s history demonstrated that technique and knowledge increased the chances of success rather than luck.

How Is Poker A Game Of Skill? Poker is 100% skill and 50% luck. 

As in many other countries, Poker is based primarily on strategy and skill, with an additional degree of chance.

Countless scientific studies have been done that confirm this predominance. And this is so true that there are countless schools and academies, and hundreds of books and thousands of articles have been written.

If Poker was not a game of skill, why learn it? 

Why worry about knowing how to play better? And, what would be worse, why would we be writing this book? In fact, without the need for so many deep dives, one of the best ways to recognize what is stated is to notice that those who usually win tournaments or reach the final positions are elite.

How Is Poker A Psychological Game?

One might think of good streaks, but when they last over time, and the experience is repeated with so many good players, we conclude that technique far surpasses chance.

It will be impossible if you try to lose in a game of pure luck, like roulette. We must deliberately play well. The same does not happen in Poker, which offers multiple possibilities to do what is necessary to lose. 


In Poker, it is not the one who has the best hand who wins, but the one who best decides how to play it.

Long ago, no other than Shakespeare said that “it is destiny that shuffles the cards, but we are the ones who play them.”

Therefore, “don’t blame bad luck when you lose and say that you win thanks to your skill. If you think you have nothing to learn, it is the surest way to guarantee that you learn exactly that: nothing”.

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Fatima Humayun

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