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Is Poker Gambling Skill or Luck?


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Poker Luck or Skill

A small percentage of people can find themselves addicted to playing poker. If you find playing poker is taking over your life in a negative way, you are losing money you cannot afford to lose, or you think you may have a gambling problem, you should seek professional help.

Online poker sites are always willing to help anyone that feels they have any issues relating to playing poker. You can place limits on deposit amounts and playing time on your account, restrict access to your account for set periods of time, or even permanently close your account.

Skill or Luck - Is Poker Gambling?

The debate about whether poker is a game of skill or just gambling is as old as the act of playing cards. Is poker skill or luck, or is it a combination of the two? How much poker luck is involved? PokerNews answers these questions and more.

Skill vs Luck - Is Poker Just Down to Luck?

Poker has a gambling element to it, which leads some players to question if poker is just down to luck. Although there is a serious amount of luck involved in poker, the fact the same big names regularly win in cash games and tournaments shows that there is skill involved. Otherwise, are you claiming these elite-level players are simply luckier than their rivals?

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Luck in Poker - Is There Luck Involved in Poker?

Poker is a game with mathematics at its core, which is where the luck element of poker comes into play. If you tossed a coin one billion times, you would expect that coin to land on heads or tails 50% of the time. While it would essentially be 50/50 by the time you reached one billion coin tosses, there would be spells where it landed on heads dozens, hundreds or even thousands of times in a row. The bumpy road towards that true 50/50 figure is known as variance.

Variance plays a significant role in all poker formats and variants. For example, pocket aces beat a random hand approximately 85% of the time over a large sample size. Yet there will be times when it seems like your pocket aces continually lose. This short-term poker luck is what players focus on instead of the much longer-term when thevariance eventually evens out.

Skill in Poker - Is There Skill Involved in Poker?

There are some poker players that do not believe in poker skill, yet fail to answer why professional poker players exist. Do they believe that poker pros are just luckier than anyone else? There is a skill element to playing poker, which starts with you having control over which cards to play and which to fold.

In addition, poker skill is required to put opponents on a range of hands, to bet the correct amount of chips to induce a call or fold, and more. The best poker players study the game in-depth, from learning the odds and probabilities of every aspect of the game to learning all about Game Theory Optimal plays that are mathematically perfect.

There would only be luck involved without the skill element, making the game poker gambling where the luckiest player won. An unskillful poker player will win some pots and even triumph in tournaments because of the variance or luck factor. However, a skilful, knowledgeable player will always have an edge in the long run.

Charlie Carrel: "It Doesn’t Hurt To Be Lucky"

Is Poker Gambling?

You have read about luck and skill in poker, but no answer to the question is poker gambling. Non-poker players will argue the game is gambling, while actual poker players will state poker is not pure gambling, although there is some gambling involved. So what is poker?

What is Gambling?

Most dictionaries state that gambling is when someone wagers something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. Someone gambling on an NFL game wagers money, hoping that their predictions come true in the random football game and they win money from the bookmaker.

Using that description, poker has gambling in it because you bet chips on the random outcome of the next card or cards, hoping to win more chips. Where a sports bettor can only research a team's form and injuries etc., a poker player can, in some way, influence the outcome of a hand they play.

Elements of Gambling in Poker

  • When you are on a flush or straight draw – Gambling comes into poker whenever you bet, raise, or call an opponent, knowing that you must catch a card to improve your hand to a straight or flush. This is out of your control, so is considered gambling.
  • Whenever you bluff an opponent – Bluffing in poker is arguably a pure form of gambling because you are betting chips with the sole intention of making your opponent fold their hand, resulting in you winning the current pot.
  • When you move all-in preflop – Moving all-in preflop, usually when short-stacked in a tournament, is gambling because you are usually hoping everyone folds, and you win the blinds and antes.
  • When putting opponents on ranges of cards - You could consider it gambling when deducing what range of hands an opponent has because you are working with incomplete information on which you base your decisions.

Am I Bad or Unlucky? Addressing a Commonly Asked Poker Question

Why Poker Isn’t Gambling

Although there is some gambling in poker, it is not gambling in the same way as betting on sports or placing wagers on the roulette wheel. A knowledgeable poker player that has worked and studied hard to improve their skills will always come out as a winner eventually, even if the mathematical variance in the short-term results in them losing.

Can Muslims Play Poker?

Islam frowns upon all forms of gambling, whether it is a game of chance or skill and whether or not there is money involved. PokerNews suggests speaking to your Iman if you are a Muslim that is considering playing poker.

Is Poker Haram?

Many Muslims question if poker is haram, and some scholars disagree with one another. Most scholars agree that any form of gambling, especially when money is involved, is haram. Again, speak to your Iman if you are questioning if poker is haram.

Poker Gambling FAQs

Can you get addicted to poker?

Most people play poker in a safe and responsible manner, but there are some people that become addicted to the game, just as they do in other forms of gambling and, indeed, all walks of life. Thankfully, reputable online poker sites have a wealth of responsible gaming tools available for their customers, and there are dozens of charities and organizations that assist people with gaming addictions.

Is poker regulated?

PokerNews only promotes online poker sites that are licensed, regulated, and that operate legally in their jurisdiction. There are unregulated poker sites, but PokerNews does not recommend giving them your custom because of the risks involved.

Is poker legal?

Yes, poker is legal around the world, although there are some countries and some states and provinces where there are strict rules regarding citizens playing poker online. PokerNews only promotes online poker sites that are legally operating.

Is poker banned in any countries?

Yes, some countries have banned online poker. PokerNews attempts to only show online poker sites that legally operate in the country from which you view our website. However, it is always worthwhile checking the online poker site's terms and conditions for list of banned countries.

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