Poker; games of skill; games of chance; mathematics


Gaming and Casino Operations Management | Gaming Law

Document Type

Original Research Article


This paper sheds light on the age-old argument as to whether poker is a game in which skill predominates over chance or vice versa. Recent work addressing the issue of skill vs. chance is reviewed. This current study considers two different scenarios to address the issue: 1) a mathematical analysis supported by computer simulations of one random player and one skilled player in Texas Hold'Em, and 2) full-table simulation games of Texas Hold'Em and Seven Card Stud. Findings for scenario 1 showed the skilled player winning 97 percent of the hands. Findings for scenario 2 further reinforced that highly skilled players convincingly beat unskilled players. Following this study that shows poker as predominantly a skill game, various gaming jurisdictions might declare poker as such, thus legalizing and broadening the game for new venues, new markets, new demographics, and new media. Internet gaming in particular could be expanded and released from its current illegality in the U.S. with benefits accruing to casinos who wish to offer online poker.