Poker A Game Of Skill Or Luck?

Poker A Game Of Skill Or Luck?

As a spectator sport, poker traditionally isn’t the most engaging thing to watch. I realised this when I found myself in a casino in GOA.
My first ever visit to the casino was very overwhelming and intimidating.

I was there for a couple of days with a friend, and being a fan of poker, thought it would be fun to check out poker games there. It wasn’t, nothing happens – you see lots of people insist on wearing sunglasses in a windowless room, some cards and chips moving around a table, and occasionally someone being ransacked of all their chips because they got outplayed or got a suck-out from a fish. Watching poker in real life is boring. Then you have them complaining about how the opponent got lucky.

Now did they really get lucky or was it skill. If it was skill, then what was the skill. The reasoning is simple enough: If chance dominates skill then poker is a game of chance, and if skill dominates chance then poker is a game of skill. Most of the readers here are still confused.

So let me explain, why we see some players constantly excelling in certain formats or multiple formats of the game. Discipline and learning= SKILL in poker. If I were to play poker they way it is supposed to be played for one hand and decide that my pocket AA’s got cracked by 27 off suited, because some fish or calling station decided not to believe me or give me suck out then it is out rite luck. But then Poker is not about that 1 hand. Poker is about being disciplined and playing it how it is supposed to be played by getting creative inside the circle of rules and strategies laid out.

For instance, players who ranked in the best-performing 10% in the first six months of the year were twice as likely as others to do similarly well in the next six months if not more taking into consideration tilt and variance, and players who finished in the best-performing 1% in the first half of the year were 12 times more likely than others to repeat the feat in the second half. Meanwhile, players who fared badly from the start continued to lose and hardly ever evolved into top performers.

The point here is that performance is predictable. In a game of chance there would be no connection in the winnings of players across successive periods, whereas there would be in a game of skill. So this proves that poker can’t be a game of pure chance.


Anyone who has ever played poker seriously will tell you that poker is rarely ever played as a short-term game. Anyone who’s ever had even a semi-serious attempt at trying to make money out of it knows that if you want to make actual money playing poker, it’s not going to happen inside 60 hands. How many hands you have to play in order to become an expert is anyone’s guess, but some players report playing anything from 200 to about 10,000 hands per day. In other words, if you want to be a brilliant poker player, it’s going to take you a long time. Unless you’re a computer, in which case it will take about two months.

To examine this agencies have researched running simulations comparing the performance of skilled and unskilled players, and found the turning point: Skilled players can expect to do better than unskilled players at least three quarters of the time after 1,471 hands have been played.

In other words, poker becomes a game of skill after around 1,500 hands. To put this into perspective, most online players are likely to play 1,500 hands in 19 to 25 hours, average of 60 to 70 hands an hour, and less than that if they play multiple tables at the same time. Of course, devoted players everywhere might feel inclined to celebrate this revelation. They can now be satisfied knowing the game they love demands and rewards genuine discipline and skill and in the end talent will usually triumph over blind luck.


There are so many different factors and skill sets that create the “edges” that. Everything from conceptual understanding to overcoming psychological weakness and gambling instincts to mathematical intelligence to emotional control to player reads. With the complexity involved in most variants of poker, the strategy and counter strategy is endless in nature and there’s no “solution” that maximizes your “edge”. Therefore, it’s an enormously interesting game with an endless learning curve.

But you just have to come to terms with the fact that the skill/edges you develop in poker does not magically turn a losing hand into a winning hand. The cards you are dealt will determine that. Your skill will simply help you achieve profit in the long run by maximizing your winning scenarios and minimizing your losing scenarios.