A landmark ruling on whether poker is a game of skill or merely chance will determine whether it will be played in private members clubs or only in licensed casinos.
Experienced players employ sophisticated strategy and tactics in their game but there are obviously elements of luck involved. Is poker ultimately a game of chance or skill? Send us your views using the form below. Your replies will be posted here.
The view of the veterans is that you should not go into a game hoping you will be lucky. Rather, you should hope that none of the other players will be lucky. In other words, there is definitely an element of luck involved, which good players will do their best to minimise, and bad players will do their best to maximise. Philip Glass, West Sussex
I cannot comment on skill or luck in poker. However, I don not understand how if rubber bridge is legally played for money in the UK, why poker should be treated differently? Perhaps it is a class issue. Bridge tended to be played by swells at posh clubs and poker (until recently) was played by lowlifes at dives. John Myers, New York, USA
I’ve tossed a coin and the answer is luck! James Laing, Perth
Although there is obviously an element of luck in poker it is much more a game of knowledge, skill and mathematics. If it was only luck those who are skilled at the game would not be able to persistently win and become champions since the law of averages dictates, with only a few exceptions,that everyone has the same amount of bad and good luck. In otherwords it must be skill that wins the overall game. Barbara Marshall, Glasgow
Is it not true, sir? The more one practices the luckier one gets. This simple, but nonetheless profound, adage applies to all games of chance that involves some degree of mental agility. In Poker, a player’s decision to hold or fold, is based on two things. Courage and the odds against getting the card one needs. The skillful player disguises the one while demonstrating the other. Fear can be detected by the skillful player, and, indeed any hint of euphoria. So as well as accurately weighing the odds, (a skill of its own) the ability to read body language endows such a player with a double advantage. The unskillful player, in betraying himself, demonstrates to his opponents a lack of skill and is therefore likely to be poor at balancing the odds. He will ultimately lose. In Poker, if that does not define skill, then what does? Edward O’Brien, Gloucestershire
Any game becomes one of skill once strategy can affect the result. Luck plays a part in most competitive activities (the toss in cricket can be crucial) but it is what you do with the opportunities that rewards the skilfull player. Anyone who thinks poker is a game of luck doesn’t understand the game. David Hope Robertson, North Cyprus
Certain Poker games contain more luck than others. No Limit Hold em contains quite a lot of luck because a huge majority of betting occurs when only two cards have been dealt and it does not take a great deal of thought to just go all in. Seven card stud is a slower game and more skillful with more permutations, but it doesn’t lend itself to television. Also, if you play with the same players regularly, more skill comes into it. No top players have reached the final table of the WSOP twice for quite a while. TV celebs get byes into the latter rounds. There is no such thing as a top 10 player in HoldEm. Peter Covington, London
It’s all luck. Then again, I could be bluffing. Roy Jemison, Winnipeg, Canada
If our venerable law makers have posed the question “is poker a game of luck or skill?”, then they are more stupid than I thought. Clearly, the question has no answer because poker is a game of luck AND skill. End of debate I think. Paul Pickering, Camberley
Poker is nothing more than odds. Experienced players have the level of risk they are willing to accept, if the cards they are dealt fall within that level of risk, play on, if they are outside, fold. The cards are pure luck; the decision to play on or to fold is the only skill involved with poker. Ashley McDonald, Bolton
Poker is a game of both skill and luck. And a different mix of these two elements is needed at different times. One thing is for sure, bad players will always end up losing, good players will sometimes win. How much the good players win, and how often depends upon how good they are, how much luck they get, and the time in a game when they get the luck. I’ve played Single Table tournament games, not won a single hand, but ended up in the prize money – not because I got lucky (I clearly didn’t otherwise I’d have won some hands), but because other players have played badly, I’ve recognised this, and sat tight until they got themselves knocked out. I’ve played games where I’ve had monster starting hands, played them well against players just taking a punt, and lost out completely because they got lucky. Perversely, against better players, I’d have won the hands. Unlike “normal” gambling, a poker player is not “betting” on events that are out of his/her control. In every hand, there’s an opportunity to get out, whereas in a casino game like Black Jack or Roulette you have to pay to have a chance of a prize. This mix of skill and luck makes it like any other competitive activity, so I can’t see why Poker has to stay in licensed casinos. A private club seems like a reasonable venue, though why it can’t be treated like Crib or Darts in a Pub type environment still escapes me. Russ Walker, Sheffield
In the short term poker is all luck. In the long term luck doesn’t come into it at all. If it was all just down to luck how could players like Doyle Brunson win the World Series twice? If anyone reading this honestly thinks No Limit Holdem is all luck please meet me at the online site of your choice for a game anytime. Gary Marshall, East Kilbride
There are certainly elements of luck and skill. For example, you could be a novice player and win a major tournament by playing badly but getting super lucky, something which is unlikely to happen with novice golfers for example. But this is the major exception to the rule. In the long run all good (ie winning) poker players will come out on top because the skill element to the game is designed to weed out the random element of the game as much as possible. That’s what makes it so fascinating. If it were a pure game of luck how do you explain the fact that some players are persistently ranked top of the world in the game. Are they just the luckiest people in the world? Leong Lee, Nottingham
Unless possessed of psychic powers and the ability to see into the future there will always be an element of chance in any competitive event. Our gaming laws are outdated far from protecting people from the lure of gambling they encourage a society where slot machines take pride of place in every pub and chip shop and where everyone over the age of 16 can buy scratch cards, visit a bingo hall or walk into a bookmaker at will, yet we seek to actively discourage them from taking part in a pastime that requires years of learning to become good at. If poker really where more chance than skill, it would be impossible for people to make a living playing it. Since there is a healthy and growing community of such players surely the case should be closed. Dan Hofinger, London
Please complete the form below and your contribution will be considered for publication. Please restrict your response to 250 words. It may be necessary to edit your comments. Please include your name, town/county/state of residence and e-mail.