The question of whether poker is a game of luck or a game of skill has been a topic of debate over the years. The answer is that it is actually both.
Poker allows strategy to influence a player's outcome more than any other gambling game, but there is still an element of chance involved.
Even the best poker players suffer bad beats.
A Game of Luck
All forms of poker require players to wager money before the cards are even dealt, in the form of blinds or antes. Since this money is at stake before the hand even begins, and hence before any skill can be applied, you are technically gambling that money.
Sure, one can argue that the money could be recuperated through solid play, no matter what cards are dealt. However, no one wins every single hand; it just doesn't happen. If another player is dealt the nuts (the best possible hand), no amount of strategy is going to make him or her fold.
Furthermore, we have all played against opponents who simply refuse to fold, no matter what. These aggressive players may not last long, but what's to say they don't catch a winning card at the end of the hand?
There are just too many factors involved to definitively state that poker is not a form of gambling. However, skill can play an enormous roll in a poker player's success.
A Game of Skill
Poker strategy is the subject of books, television, movies, and online media everywhere. Proper poker strategy is a skill that goes beyond simply calculating the odds of winning each hand.
Read your opponents: The first step to being a successful poker player is the ability to anticipate your opponents' actions. This is accomplished by using every hand as a learning opportunity. Observe the other players for tells, many of which can be seen in their betting patterns.
Be aggressive: Once you draw conclusions about the other players, it is important to take a proactive approach to winning. Imagine how the game would be played if you could see the other players' cards. You would be attacking the weak hands and squeezing as many chips out of your opponents as possible. This is how you should treat the game; use the conclusions you draw to gauge the strength of your opponents'
cards and attack.
Use caution: An aggressive strategy based on sound observation of opponents will set you up for success, but there is still an element of chance involved. Have you ever lost a hand where you were not actually out-played? Of course you have. We have all stood up from the table angry at the luck of the other player. No matter how much skill is applied, poker is still a form of gambling and subject to chance.
Poker is ultimately a game of both luck and skill. Do the best poker players usually win? Yes. Do they always win? No. While skill can greatly influence a player's success, strategy cannot guarantee a win every time. When it is all said and done, poker is a form of gambling.
About the author:
Chris Miller is the owner of gambling information sites Online, a site which rates the best online gambling information sites and provides helpful strategy and tips for many casino games.
[Article submitted March 2013]
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