Copyright 2007 Full
March 30th, 2007
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Poker Lesson: How Much Luck? How
Author: Ben Roberts
If you've ever sat at a poker
table, you've invariably heard the questions asked in the title
of this article. While all serious players believe poker
is a game
of skill, they don't always agree on how skilful a game it really
is. Some people believe the skill to luck ratio falls at somewhere
around 70% - 30%, while others argue that the ratio is closer
to 90% - 10%. If you ask me, however, I'll tell you something
you won't hear from almost anybody else. Poker is 100% skilful.
Now, I know many of you are already skeptical about
how I can make this kind of claim. What about bad beats? Or the
times you're out-drawn on the river? How can I not figure these
kinds of situations into my thinking? The fact is, I already have.
Variance is part of poker and it would be highly unusual if bad
beats didn't occasionally happen or if two-outers didn't sometimes
hit on the river, as this would defy the laws of probability.
The fact is, these kinds of events should have less of an impact
on your overall results the more you play.
If you only play
a few hands or a few hours of poker at a time, luck will undoubtedly
play a bigger factor in your results than if you play regularly.
For example, let's look at a player who puts in eight hours a
day, five days a week, for 50 weeks per year, which is equivalent
to 2,000 hours at the table. Assuming this is a solid, smart player
who doesn't vary his or her stakes throughout the course of the
year, I believe their talent will outweigh the effect of luck
to ensure that they produce positive results year after year.
That's not to say this player won't run into the occasional rough
patch or have losing sessions, but by sticking to their game plan,
these occasional down-turns shouldn't adversely affect their bottom
In effect, all players get paid for every good decision
that they make and penalized for their bad ones. By continuously
making high-quality decisions over the course of so many hours,
skilful players should make more good decisions than bad, and
see their bankrolls grow as a result. I have done this for more
than 33 years, and know many other professional players who have
produced similar results for many years. What this shows me is
that, over the long haul, luck is not only insignificant when
it comes to your results - it's non-existent.
It takes a true professional to look at poker
in this way, and I fully expect that many people will disagree
with my conclusions. That's why I'm holding a scheduled chat session
entitled "Poker - Luck or Skill" on Full
Tilt Poker at 15:00 ET (3PM ET) on Saturday, April 7th. I'll
be happy to answer any questions you may have about my position
and further explain why I believe that, over the long term, luck
has nothing to do with being a winning poker
Tilt Poker Referral Bonus
from the World Wide Web on April 9, 2007: