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Revised Mass. Gambling Bill Won't Criminalize Online Poker

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the us-rule-v.-british-rule dept.

Government 104

travdaddy writes "As reported on Slashdot only about a week ago, a passage of a gambling bill in Massachusetts would have criminalized online poker. That passage has been stricken due to the help of a grass-roots organization called the Poker Players Alliance. It 'quickly got the message to all of its Massachusetts members — around 25,000 people — and over 1,000,000 nationwide to make their voices heard; apparently lawmakers were listening since the language making online poker illegal — and online gaming in general — was taken out of the legislation.' Another Massachusetts bill may even 'take [poker] completely out of the gambling genre' and make it legislated as a game of skill."

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Oh teh noes. (0, Flamebait)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#31864724)

/me quietly waits for the ignorant peoples on slashdot to claim that poker isnt a game of skill.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Blailus (1021315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31864756)

Apparently that won't be happening. Not yet anyhow.

Poker is a game of luck. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864792)

Monday, March 22, 2010

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| ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact:
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` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Copyright (c) 2003-2010 Gay Nigger Association of America [www.gnaa.eu]

Re:Poker is a game of luck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864840)

It's over. Accept it. The GNAA trolls' heyday is past, most of the teenagers responsible got girlfriends, grew up and moved on, and attempts to reinvigorate it will never recapture its former "glory".

It's like a pop group that was once really famous and sold shitloads, then went not entirely out of fashion but were no longer the premier flavor du jour. They continue to sell records, and once in a while a single of theirs may graze the top 10, but they'll never ever be as big as they once were.

As intentionally offensive and semi-creative trolls go, this one's actually not too bad. (Though the boilerplate at the end really needs updating. 130MB bittorrent? That's the sort of size/quality we were downloading in 2004. Was this laziness or an acknowledgement of your roots?)

And even if your later material knocked spots off the smash hits of your peak, it'll still only reach #14 for a couple of weeks.

Fair or not, that's life... just accept it.

Re:Poker is a game of luck. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864930)

lol, the president of the united states is a bi-curious mulatto. Half gay, half nigger. GNAA wins again.

Re:Oh teh noes. (3, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31864758)

After watching Phil Ivey burn out at the WSOP last year... I'd say it's both. It's about making the right decision based on what you know, and what ou have. You can't last long in tournament play if you're a sloppy player, and on the reverse, no matter how good you are, if you're drawing crap hands, even if you muscle in with crap cards, it's going to destroy you.

It's also certainly gambling, but it's not the same as blackjack or slots which is entirely a you vs the house, it is a you versus everyone else(the house gets a small cut) situation.

Re:Oh teh noes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864938)

It's also certainly gambling, but it's not the same as blackjack or slots which is entirely a you vs the house, it is a you versus everyone else(the house gets a small cut) situation.

Another Massachusetts bill may even 'take [poker] completely out of the gambling genre' and make it legislated as a game of skill.

I think it isn't "certainly" about gambling, I think it is "absolutely" about gambling. Legislators will gladly turn a blind eye at the numbers of people that, say, kill themselves thanks to Alcohol and Tobacco. Why's that? I'm pretty sure that they make enough revenue from those "vices" that lost life is alright.

But, damn. How are they going to tax and regulate gambling? They can't, so they try to ban it. Just like prostitution. Just like other "victimless crimes". How many people overdose on consensual sex? How many people overdose on getting rivered by deuce-seven pocket cards when they came into the hand with pocket rockets? *1

(I'm not saying we should ban alcohol or other drugs. I like alcohol. I'm just saying that it's crazy how we let people kill themselves, but we don't let them have fun. Shouldn't it be the other way around?)

*1 I'm sure that both prostitution and gambling have ancillary effects, such as resorting to crime to get money or transmission of life altering diseases. Please don't nitpick on that subject.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865068)

How are they going to tax and regulate gambling?

The Nevada Gaming Commission certainly does.

Same with prostitution.

The problem though, is ... is the state willing to commit the resources to do it?

Re:Oh teh noes. (4, Insightful)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865438)

After watching Phil Ivey burn out at the WSOP last year... I'd say it's both. It's about making the right decision based on what you know, and what ou have. You can't last long in tournament play if you're a sloppy player, and on the reverse, no matter how good you are, if you're drawing crap hands, even if you muscle in with crap cards, it's going to destroy you.

First, tournament poker is only one form of the game and involves higher variance compared to a cash game. But while the outcome of any individual hand or of a single tournament is a combination of luck and skill, long-run outcomes can only differ among individuals on the basis of skill, since the random factors do not favor any particular individual in the long run.

Re:Oh teh noes. (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865768)

Whether poker is a game of skill or a game of luck depends on the number of hands played. Of course luck has an effect on any individual hand or for that matter on an individual tournament, and a skillful player can have a bad day or a bad month. Over a large enough number of hands though, the good hands and bad hands will be distributed evenly between all players. Therefore, the difference between a successful player and an unsuccessful player is a difference in skill, not a difference in luck. To me, that's a strong enough argument to classify poker as a game of skill.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

MoarInternets (1759018) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867178)

Right. It's part of what makes the game so much fun. In chess if an expert played a noob he would probably crush him every game, but with poker the noob always has a chance. The game teaches you a lot about your own psychology too, since if you are a winning player you will likely eventually hit a downswing that you thought was impossible before.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

exigentsky (771810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867484)

All poker involves both skill and luck, this is a consequence of a game with unknown and dynamic starting variables. However, this doesn't make it any less a game of skill, it just increases variance. This is partly why poker is so popular... anyone can win on a given day and think he's a poker genius. It's especially true for tournaments where the skill edge of the participants is greatly reduced since the stacksizes are small. there is a fear of busting out and there are so many players changing tables (not giving much time to develop reads). However, over the long term, the same 1,326 hand combinations will be dealt pretty evenly to every player and the difference will be how they play them and the appropriate situations. Sometimes the long-term is only 50K hands and sometimes it's 500K but inevitably, the best player (assuming unbalanced skill levels) will be the biggest winner. The smaller the skill edge, the higher the variance and the larger the required sample. For instance if I'm playing 5NL and beating it for 50bb/100 over 10K hands, it's pretty unlikely that I'm not a winner even though my winrate is probably unsustainable. However, if I were only beating it for 5bb/100, it's still not clear I will be a long term winner. If anyone doubts this, there are countless databases with billions of hands tracking hundreds of thousands of players. There are clearly some VERY long-term winners that have played poker at the highest levels professionally over more hands than one can imagine. Poker is ultimately gambling only in the sense that you have incomplete information but must still make a decision. However, good players know the rough chances of success for a given action and situation. Sometimes it's just math... I have a nut-flush draw and two overs, he will have TPTK 90% of the time here and I'm a slight favorite to outdraw him so I'm happy to get the money in. Whether you win or lose, you made a +EV decision. Other times it's much more involved and read dependent. For instance, you might see a player 3-bet all his aces better than AT from the BTN against a CO raise deep stacked but calls with Axs etc.. Then, when he 3-bets you and an A flops, you know that he doesn't have it. Thus, he may have KK but you will outplay him by increasing the pressure until he's forced to fold. Many players are predictable in such ways and that's something you definitely don't want to be in poker... especially in online poker where good players will have plenty of statistics on you (VPIP, PFR, 3B, F3B, CB, FCB, TCB, FTCB, SQZ%, AGG%, AF, WTSD%, W$SD%, and much more). To anyone who doubts that poker is a game of skill, pick-up a good book on it like the Mathematics of Poker or watch some high stakes videos by top players. The game is simple at face value but beneath it lies a lot of depth and that's part of the beauty. For me it's a hobby and I treat it like a math puzzle. I usually do range and equity analysis but nothing too brave and it works for me. Better players can push much bigger edges. To call poker gambling is to call meteorology random. In poker, you control the action and most hands don't even go to showdown (only about 25% reach showdown). Most governments have recognized this, as well and it's remarkable to me that this is still debated in the US. Although, it is uninformed debate, much like the debate between creationism and evolution. Poker is an interesting and challenging game with many lessons to offer. Of course, one needs discipline and should play at appropriate stakes... or for some, even play money. In fact, it's even used as a teaching tool by a Harvard professor: http://www.pokerlistings.com/learning-from-the-game-poker-in-academia-22258 [pokerlistings.com] My suspicion is that the opposition to poker by some members of government is due to corruption by casino-monopolies, a lack of understanding and a misguided sense of morality. Of course, online poker is still legal in the US, but the fact that it was even attached to this bill is rather ridiculous. Sorry for rambling!

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 4 years ago | (#31870642)

"For instance, you might see a player 3-bet all his aces better than AT from the BTN against a CO raise deep stacked but calls with Axs etc.. Then, when he 3-bets you and an A flops, you know that he doesn't have it."

Sorry if I'm being dense here, but the way I read this the player 3-bets A[J-K] and merely calls A[T-2]. So, when he 3-bets and an A lands, how would you know he doesn't have an A when we know he could have A[J-K]?

Re:Oh teh noes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31872544)

Ummmm, Phil didn't burn out, he made it to the final table out of thousands of people which earned him a lot of money.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873886)

If I remembered the play correctly, Phil Ivey hit a string of bad cards and lost all in after a bad beat.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31864822)

Want to come over to my house and play with the deck I made stacked in my favour?

Re:Oh teh noes. (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31864914)

Considering that the biggest gripe of the WSP old-hands is that young players are ruining the game by relying too much on aggressive betting, I would like to argue that it is not nearly as much a game of skill as a lot of people think.

Yes, there's a big gap between someone who doesn't what they're doing and someone who knows the odds, the optimal bet associated with the odds and when someone's bluffing. At the same time, once you get to a certain level, it boils down to whether you get the cards you need. If you don't, you will lose - regardless of how awesome your strategy, card-counting and face-reading is.

So, yes, there's skill in Poker. But you can still do nothing but lose just because you're getting crap cards - or win just because you keep getting awesome cards.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865110)

If it's almost all luck then why is this line so straight (just one example)? http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/54/poker-beats-brags-variance/axxit-100nl-hu-562546/ [twoplustwo.com]

Re:Oh teh noes. (2, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865376)

Thats heads-up live action, and its true that some poker has low variance.

The GP was correct that the old guard of pro tournament players do not like the new situation, and it isnt because they dont have an edge against the young hyper-aggressive crowd.

Its because the hyper aggressive players increase the variance of everyone at the table, including the loose passive players, which is pecisely counter to what benefits the top half of the table (including the *good* hyper-aggressives) the most.

So the old pros still have an edge, but the edge they pick up on Mr. Raise-A-Lot does not cover the edge that they lose on Mr. Call-A-Lot.

Ask any pro-poker player what type of cash money table they like to sit at, and the answer is Loose-Passive. When the game gets overly aggressive, the pros pick up and find a new game to play in thats less dramatic.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865508)

That's not live.. its online (duh?). And heads up has the MOST variance. Please stop giving anecdotal evidence.. its so dumb that its making my head hurt. Variance can be calculated using solid mathematical methods. The confidence levels of having a certain BB/100 can be calculated too. And so on. There's no need to tell stupid retarded lame stories.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866062)

Please stop giving anecdotal evidence..

And yet all you provided was anecdotal evidence. Food for thought: if 1000 people make 1000 dice rolls, what are the odds that one person has an average dice roll of 4?

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

darkshadow88 (776678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868508)

And yet all you provided was anecdotal evidence. Food for thought: if 1000 people make 1000 dice rolls, what are the odds that one person has an average dice roll of 4?

By my calculations, the chances of any given 1000 rolls having that result would be 2.15 * 10^-22. If 1000 people rolled, that makes 2.15 * 10^-19. To put it into perspective, every person on Earth would have to do 3.8 trillion attempts of the 1000-roll experiment to see an average of 4 once. That's close enough to zero for me.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

darkshadow88 (776678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868556)

Preemptive correction: that 3.8 trillion attempts by each person in the world would only make for a 50% chance of one of those experiments resulting in an average of 4. Also, I used an estimate of 6 billion people for the population. That's probably low, but it doesn't change the numbers substantially.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31881694)

Heads up does not have the most variance. You just made that up. Maybe specific players do, but thats a different story.

This fact is quite obvious. A 10-handed $20/$40 game verses a 2-handed $20/$40 games. In both cases it costs about the same to see a hand through, but in the 10 handed game your chance of winning any given hand is less, but the payoff odds are higher. Thats the fucking definition of variance.

Re:Oh teh noes. (3, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865112)

Likewise I suppose, while the 500m sprint is usually a game of skill, theres nothing stopping a meteorite from pummeling you into the clay dirt and losing the race.

It's all a matter of chance really. Albeit, the odds of being dealt a crap hand are pretty high, and being hit by space rock are...

wait for it....

astronomical!

Re:Oh teh noes. (3, Interesting)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865156)

Considering that the biggest gripe of the WSP old-hands is that young players are ruining the game by relying too much on aggressive betting, I would like to argue that it is not nearly as much a game of skill as a lot of people think.

Tournament play is heavily influenced by luck. One bad beat and you're out. End of story.

Cash play, however, is a game of skill. A skilled player brushes off a bad beat, waits out the cold cards, and makes money in the long run. The overly aggressive risk-taker who just won a tournament will lose every penny of his winnings, and then some, if he chooses to sit down at a cash table and see how his playing style works for him in the long run.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866018)

ONE tournament play is heavily influenced by luck. No doubt about that. But a serious, skilled poker player isn't only going to enter one tournament in their lifetime, he's going to enter LOTS and LOTS of tournaments. So a skilled played can still brush off one bad tournament beat just like you said, and still make money in the long run. In many tournaments, if you literally play 100 times and only take first place once you'd still make a boatload of cash overall.

(story submitter here!)

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

craigmarq (1791204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867866)

Considering that the biggest gripe of the WSP old-hands is that young players are ruining the game by relying too much on aggressive betting, I would like to argue that it is not nearly as much a game of skill as a lot of people think.

Tournament play is heavily influenced by luck. One bad beat and you're out. End of story.

Cash play, however, is a game of skill. A skilled player brushes off a bad beat, waits out the cold cards, and makes money in the long run. The overly aggressive risk-taker who just won a tournament will lose every penny of his winnings, and then some, if he chooses to sit down at a cash table and see how his playing style works for him in the long run.

You should really stop responding to peoples posts because its pretty clear that you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Luck is going to influence just about any game over a small sample size, thats why you have upsets in sports. However when you have a statistically relevant sample (in online poker this would be ~100k hands)you can fairly easily deduce who the skilled players are. I've been playing as my sole means of income since 2007, and have played well over a million poker hands(I played 5k in about 4 hours this evening) so I'm not just talking out of my ass.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

craigmarq (1791204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867902)

I'm bad at /. and replied to the wrong person. It should've been under Rockoon.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865276)

The WSP old-hands know full well how to handle aggressive betting. They're setting it up by pretending they don't.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867822)

Not really. The problem is, in a tournament, you have limited options. In a cash game, an agressive player will eventually start losing and if you have enough cash, you can be there to get all your money back.

In a tournament, though, once your chips are gone, you're out. And even if you're a 95% favorite on every hand you play, if you are playing for all your chips (which frequently happens when you're up against agressive players), you will eventually get busted by a bad beat (all too often "eventually" is "too soon") and you have no way to "re-buy" and wait for the agressive player to give them back to you.

Tournament play is all about money management. Even if you have pocket Aces, it may not be wise to call someone who has you covered and pushes you all in. Instead, you want to win more smaller pots, but with agressive players, chances of small pots are slim.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31869164)

Even if you have pocket Aces, it may not be wise to call someone who has you covered and pushes you all in.

Know how I know you're bad at poker?

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Bucket58 (66579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31875120)

Pre-flop, you'd be correct. Post flop not so much. He could have hit a set on on the flop. If his pocket was suited, theres flushes, and always straight draws. Odds for those three get even better after the turn if your still sitting there on aces. There are times where throwing aces away is the correct move.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31875908)

There are very few times when throwing aces away is the correct move, and if someone has been playing over-aggressively, the chance that it's one of those times hasn't changed, so your chance of doubling-up on your measly bullets goes WAY THE FUCK UP.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31878580)

Wrong. If you're heads up, pocket A's are a huge advantage against any other hand, but if there is more than one player you're up against, the value of aa's goes way down. And when playing against a large field of agressive players, it's very common to be all in against 2 or 3 or even 4 people. Your aces are at a less than 50% chance of winning, even though you've got the best hand.

Still, even heads up you have to decide if you're willing to put your tournament life at stake against someone that can get lucky and knock you out in one hand.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31878594)

Know how I know YOU are bad at poker? You don't understand what I am talking about.

If you get dealt pocket aa's 100 times in a row, and each time you go up against someone that has you covered, your tournament *WILL* be over.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31884610)

Know how I know YOU are bad at poker? You don't understand what I am talking about.

If you get dealt pocket aa's 100 times in a row, and each time you go up against someone that has you covered, your tournament *WILL* be over.

Not if you have a stack that is 99x bigger than everyone because you won the first 99 of those 100 hands. I love people like you who fold AA, you pay my mortgage. The ONLY time where folding AA preflop would be correct is in a satellite tournament where every place pays the same amount and you have enough chips to be able to fold into the money. In any other situation folding AA preflop, covered or not is a huge mistake. cEV == $EV in almost every case and if you have folding when you have a HUGE edge vs. your opponent's range you are giving away money. Go ahead, plug in whatever numbers you like into an ICM calculator [pokerhelper.com] , please show me these situations where folding AA is +EV.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891812)

Oh, please. Some common sense please.

We're talking about the WSOP here, not a bunch of randon sng's where you can average your losses (and wins) out over as many games as you feel like playing. With sng's, it doesn't matter if you lose one, because you will win more than you lose, but that's not how a big tourney works.

We're talking about winning "the big one". It's not just the money, but the prestige of winning the main event. If you treat it just like a random sng, you won't even make the bubble, because I guarantee you, you will be pushed all in multiple times, and you will lose and be done with the tourney, even if you have the best hand every time you enter the pot.

Winning a big tourney like the WSOP ME is about money management as much as it is about the odds. Otherwise you go out in the first hour like Jennifer Harmon a few years back when she loses most of her stack to a lucky straight flush on the river.

The thing about Jen Harmon's hand was that she was playing against an agressive player who pumped up the pot.. had she won, and she was 98% favorite, she would have nearly doubled up, but instead he got lucky and killed her, when she shouldn't have had that much money invested that early in the tournament.

Good money management makes your opponent getting lucky largely irrelevant, because even if you lose, you are able to come back. If you let yourself get pushed in a lot, even with the best hand, you won't even cash.

But i'm sure you're one of those people that likes to tell bad beat stories.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892856)

We're talking about the WSOP here, not a bunch of randon sng's where you can average your losses (and wins) out over as many games as you feel like playing. With sng's, it doesn't matter if you lose one, because you will win more than you lose, but that's not how a big tourney works.

You were talking about the WSOP? You post talked about "in a tournament" and "Tournament play", not "In the WSOP main event". You were making general statements about tournament poker, not specific statements about the WSOP.

I wasn't talking about SnGs in my post, ICM is every bit as important in a large tournament, although the effects aren't usually seen until the final table unless it is a satellite.

I'll agree that in a major tournament if you think you have a significant skill edge on the field you should try to avoid large confrontations, but if someone is pushing into your aces you call - even in the ME. Just like any tournament, you can always enter another, although for the ME you will have to wait a year to try again. If you think one has troubles winning a tournament from too many confrontations, try winning a tournament when you are folding a hand that KILLS all the other hands because your opponents are aggressive. You'll always be covered in every confrontation because your opponents will realize that you are afraid of confrontations and will 3 and 4-bet you mercilessly. You sound like someone who has heard a few things about stack management and pot control and has completely misunderstood the point.

Re:Oh teh noes. (2, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867410)

But you can still do nothing but lose just because you're getting crap cards - or win just because you keep getting awesome cards.

You can also lose because you think your opponent has better cards than you/makes bets that are unprofitable to pay off, and win because you make your opponent think you have the best hand/make bets that are unprofitable for him/her to pay off.

That is where skill comes in. If you just deal out the hands and ignore what happens during the hand (i.e. dealing out the entire hand), sure - luck is a factor, but that evens out over a long session.

But making your opponent lay down the best hand, when you can't beat anything - that requires skill. Skill in knowing when to make that bluff, knowing what opponent you can do it against, reading your opponent. And getting paid off when your opponent does similar things also requires skill.

Suppose we are playing Texas Hold'em. Are you really willing to pay off a bet on a board of [Ah, 3h, 6h, 2h, 9d] if you don't have any hearts in your hand (let's say Ad, 7c)? If we're just playing heads up, we know there is a 35% chance that your opponent has a heart in his hand. If the pot is 100 cents, what size bet is it reasonable to pay off? You can only beat any pair smaller than an ace. There are straights (4,5) and flush (any heart) options out there, as well as some slightly questionable two pairs.

Figuring out what price is acceptable for a long term profit requires math skills. And you also need skill to figure out, if you can make a bet that will win you the pot, even if you don't have anything. Suppose you were dealt Tc, 8s in the same situation. It is unlikely that you will win by showdown, as more than 50% of the hands that are possible to be dealt are better than yours. In other words, you can only win the pot by making your opponent lay down his hand.

What kind of bet, if any, would make sense? Should you just muck your cards? Or should you call, because your opponent could have a busted straight draw, like 4,7 (no heart)? You can beat 4,7. Can you make your opponent lay down KQ? KT? TJ? Can you make him lay down AK? After all, if you make a bet, you can make it look like you made the straight or the flush, in which case his pair of aces aren't any good.

Doing the right thing once - luck. Doing it constantly - skill. Yes, you need luck, because you can't just bluff all the time. You are going to get called once in a while, and then you need your cards to hold up. You also need to do the calling from time to time, and you need the cards to be on your side for that.

But there is actually a fairly simple way to demonstrate that skill plays a role. Simply line up some of the best cash game players in the world against people who haven't played the game before. Give them a massive stack of chips (5,000 big blinds should be good), and have them play a huge amount of hands. Let's go with heads-up, 10 pros against 10 new players. 5,000 hands in each match-up. And let's cap the pot sizes to lower the variance/luck factor. Say 100 BB per player. That way you can lose 40 massive pots and still have plenty of play, as you can only lose 10% of your chip-stack.

That'd give us a sample size of 50,000 hands. We can't merely compare the number of hands won - that doesn't really tell the story. You can win 80% of the hands and still come out the loser. But number of hands won, chip stacks, average number of chips won per pot, number of times the worst hand has made the best hand fold etc.

This kind of setup should give a much better picture of the level of skill involved. And to avoid having the rookies throw the game, let's bring in the people who say it's entirely a game of luck for a similar line-up as well. Now we have a sample size of 100,000 hands total. Motivation is a factor as well, but I suspect telling the pros that if they lose, poker will be banned, no exceptions, will be quite a motivator. And let's pay off the non-pros as well ... a prize of say ... 100 US$ for every BB you're ahead after the 5,000 hands.

Now, I doubt it'll end up with the pros having all the money. But I'd be surprised if it was anything lower than 60/40 in their favour.

Re:Oh teh noes. (1)

Flaming Foobar (597181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868892)

Considering that the biggest gripe of the WSP old-hands is that young players are ruining the game by relying too much on aggressive betting, I would like to argue that it is not nearly as much a game of skill as a lot of people think.

Are you trying to say that the people who make the old-hands fold their chips away are less skilled than the them? The game is played differently today than it was in the 70s, and now it's all about balancing bluffs with thin value, weighting the opponents' hand ranges and optimizing bet sizes. The old school players you are talking about play a very narrow range of hands, their betting patterns are robotic and they only take the top of their range to showdown. All this makes it very easy to play against them, if you have done your homework.

The great majority of people don't spend enough time learning the math and thinking about the game, which is what makes the game beatable.

game of skill? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864734)

I understand (not from first hand knowledge!) that sucking off half a dozen dudes takes a lot of skill, but that doesn't make CmdrTaco's glory hole a game.

Nevermind (-1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31864834)

Actually, it was Facebookers thinking this bill would make it illegal to poke her online that forced the change...

Good (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864844)

now all the retards have a legal right to get cheated out of their money by online gaming campanies who predetermine everything.

'revised' events cannot prevent creators' ppr (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31864868)

just because you don't know what really happened doesn't mean it did not happen. dream on.

for example (& not in amongst 'stuff that (really) matters' today);
http://www.aos.wisc.edu/fireball/2010_04_14_fireball_loop_1024x768_long.gif

in the here & now, there'll never be a better time to consult with/trust in your creators, laying 'it' on the line since/until forever.

How can they say that it's a game of skill? (2, Insightful)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865006)

I mean, seriously, a game of skill is a game where if your skill is superior to your opponent's you win, period. In poker if the deck keeps spitting out cards that favor your opponent you can have all the skill in the world, and you will lose...

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31865076)

It's all about the long term, tens of thousands of hands, not one or two games. Luck streaks (for better or worse) are only streaks.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865140)

Not if you stare them down and play aggressively. Even if you're short stacked, a well timed, aggressive play will win pots by pressuring another player with more chips/money.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 4 years ago | (#31870790)

And then the BB turns over QQ and you're out. Or, given how Titan seems to treat my friends and I, turns over complete rubbish and rivers you....

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31875474)

Yes, there is luck involved. There is also skill involved. That's a way to tell the good players from the lucky players. Over a long period of time, the good players win repeatedly. The lucky players win once in a while. The chance involved makes it more entertaining.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (4, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865160)

Yet strangely grandmaster chess games are often like 3-2, and not always 5-0. I guess chess isn't a game of skill then. Hmm.

obligatory: I'm not saying that the apparent chance element of chess is in any meaningful way the "same" as the intrinsic chance element of poker, but it does seem hard to define legislatively. Certainly your definition would exclude (almost?) all interesting games.

I mean, there are even people who manage to gain statistical edge in rock-paper-scissors tournaments. Apparently anytime there are 2+ people in symmetric situation, who both want something, a skill pops up.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866340)

I mean, there are even people who manage to gain statistical edge in rock-paper-scissors tournaments.

They are skilled at cheating, and turning those papers into rocks after the opponents scissors is revealed.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866758)

That might be part of it, but even so, if it convinces the spectators and judges (these are serious tournaments!), then that's good enough for me.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (3, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865162)

if the deck keeps spitting out cards that favor your opponent

Too much personification is misleading, and by grammar nazi rule, nicht erlaubt.

Yes, there exist a probability that your opponent will receive repeated winning hands, but that is just probability. In a general sense, games of pure probability are not games of skill. The skill in poker lies in the ability to read people's playing tactics over a period of time, recognize biological cues and behavioral patterns to 'read' their hand, 'read' their non-verbal signals, and manipulate the table with a high degree of personal physiological control.

Poker is a social game, and theirin lies the root of the skill. The probability involved in poker is just the medium for influencing the social dynamics that constitute the 'skill' portion of the game.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866462)

There's more to poker than "reading", it has multiple levels of skills.

If two people are playing and neither of them knows how to play at all it'll be pure chance, whomever gets the best cards will win.

If one of them know some pretty simple probability (either book knowledge or just from experience of seeing what happens), they'll have an edge.

If one knows basic probability, and the other knows conditional probability they'll have an edge.

If one knows conditional probability but the other also knows game theory, they'll have an edge.

Then there's the reading you mention, which operated in parallel. Though I would argue that simple things like observing (and remembering) betting patterns are significantly more useful than observing biological cues.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866744)

Not being an avid poker player, those views are very insightful to the uninformed. But what you have stated enforces the point that poker cannot always be reduced to pure probability, as many anti-pokerites would have us believe.

Using your logic, a fair amount of games could be reduced to almost pure probability with the condition that the player(s) have no skill whatsoever, and not deterministic cognitive abilities.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867100)

I agree. Biological cues are the things people like to point to in movies. When a player is sitting there staring down another player he is going over every hand that other player has played. Being able to take lots of imprecise information and do pattern recognition is one place where the skilled human brain is still often better than a computer.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867582)

I think a lot of people who think Poker is a game of skill are confused because they view Poker in terms of "winning" or "losing."

In most games of skill, there's a winner or a loser. In solo events, you either achieve the feat or fail to achieve the feat.

Poker doesn't really work that way. There's no one event which means you "won," so saying it's a game of skill is not a falsifiable, testable statement.

I guess you could say that folding when you technically could have one a hand is "losing," but I'd have to say all the VAST numbers of factors that go into the psycholoigy of how people do X versus people do Y means it's not a game of skill in the traditional way we think of a game of skill. If I claim to have psyched out a person into folding, how do I falsify that statement?

So it's not really the cards that are random, it's the players decision making that is!

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31872004)

He who wins the most money is the winner. It has a really simple score keeping system, with clear winners and losers

Of course the most skilled player doesn't always win - there is a large element of chance. So determining who won is not the same as determining who is most skilled. However, because there's a large amount of luck (and it is a large amount, I'm certainly not claiming the best player always wins) doesn't mean there is no skill at all.

And folding when you would have won is "losing" that hand (folding anytime but preflop with no antes/blinds is), but it is not "losing" in trying to determine who has the most skill. There are plenty of situations where folding the winning hand is the *correct* play and not doing so would be an indication of having less "skill".

For example, you are pretty sure from the way the player has played in the past that there's a 30% chance you have the best hand and a 70% chance you don't and the other player just made a pot sized bet and assuming he's all-in (or you only have that exact number of chips left yourself) then folding is the correct play even if it happened to be that 30% of the time. You aren't measuring against "what would you do if you could see their cards".

Of course there is no way to test and falsify, there's too much guess work involved. You don't actually know what the percentages for your opponents holding is, you are working off just the information you have seen in the past. You didn't see every hand, and he could have decided to completely change his way of playing 2 minutes ago.

But I don't think the existance of a (large) chance component changes that the skill involved is still "traditional".

The issue with poker is that the chance component is huge, and overwhelms the skill in lots of cases. Plus a lot of the skill involved looks like luck.

The guy who hits a set on the flop or makes a flush on the river or jams pre-flop with nothing and doesn't get called looks like he got lucky, but there's skill (knowledge really, but I think the terms are the same in this context, chess skill is all knowledge for example) in determining that the returns beat the odds and hence there's a positive expectation

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (2, Insightful)

bmk67 (971394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865188)

A skilled player doesn't need "good cards" to win.

Over a decent-sized sample of hands played, I guarantee that a skilled player will absolutely crush an unskilled one.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867454)

A skilled player doesn't need "good cards" to win.

Case in point: at the club that I used to play at, there was a player who showed up somewhat frequently who tended to clean up every table he sat at, even though he rarely even bothered to look to see what cards he had been dealt.

He was adept at quickly identifying the skill level of every player at the table, and playing to their weaknesses. Only if a skilled player was betting against him, or the betting started to get fierce enough that it became obvious that the cards were becoming a factor, would he actually check out his cards for the first time.

Not many people can play like that, and I don't know how well his style held up in the long run. But it's definitely true that skill obviates the need for good cards.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (3, Insightful)

protest_boy (305632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865268)

In any game or sport there are elements of luck. Take Scrabble for example. I doubt many would deny that Scrabble is a game skill. Yet there's a huge amount of luck involved in which letters you choose, and when you get them.

Granted, luck plays a large factor in a single hand of poker. However, poker is not a game of individual hands. The better players will be distinguished from the less skillful in the long run; hundreds of thousands of hands.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (4, Insightful)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865302)

I mean, seriously, a game of skill is a game where if your skill is superior to your opponent's you win, period. In poker if the deck keeps spitting out cards that favor your opponent you can have all the skill in the world, and you will lose...

You're thinking short term. Skill pays off in the long run.

It's statistically impossible for the cards to always favour your opponent. Eventually, you will be dealt a better hand than your opponent's hand.

A simple way to look at it is this. In an infinite number of hands dealt randomly to two players, Player A will be dealt the better hand 50% of the time, and Player B will be dealt the better hand 50% of the time. If A is "perfectly" skilled and B is "perfectly" unskilled, then A will ensure that he wins the maximum amount of money on the hands that he wins, and loses the least amount of money on the hands that he loses. Additionally, when both players have "iffy" hands, A will play in such a way as to convince B that B's hand is inferior, even when it's not, so that B will fold and give the pot to A.

Over the long run, A will make more money, even though he isn't dealt more winning hands, and even though there will be periods of time when B is being dealt a sequence of winning hands.

Of course, this only really applies to cash play, as tournaments have a designated end, and therefore they are much more influenced by luck.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

Miaowara_Tomokato (757775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865844)

To anyone browsing this thread who believes that poker is at its core a game of chance, Rary has just provided a very nice complete & concise explanation of how skill enters the game of poker. Read it as many times as you need to, and ignore any other posts on that topic. Does anyone know if there's a visual aid describing this anywhere on the 'net? That's the one thing that could enhance this post.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866242)

The trick is identifying who is skilled and who is lucky. No one has enough time to play an infinite amount of times. As a result, skill has to be identified over a limited amount of hands.

Also, Rary merely provided an explanation that poker has an element of skill - but not how much of a person's winnings is attributable to skill, and how much is to luck. That's the crux of the problem.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867150)

The trick is identifying who is skilled and who is lucky.

If you can't figure out who the sucker is at the table, it's you.

Last time I seriously played I was in Phoenix. It only took about 2-3 trips around the table to recognize the only other good player at the table and from then on we just stayed out of each others way. I made quite a bit of money that night.

The rake is the problem... (1)

javabandit (464204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867572)

I agree with you conceptually.

But the big problem is *THE RAKE*.

I am a poker player. I do believe poker to be a skill game. But the reason why poker is not a complete skill game is because of the rake. Being consistently more skilled than your opponents at poker is not enough to make you profitable. You have to be skilled enough to also overcome the rake.

Let's say that in an ideal world, with no rake, I am skilled enough to win 5 dollars per hour. After introducing the rake, I could potentially lose 10 dollars per hour... putting me at a net loss. Even though I didn't change my playing style one bit. Overcoming the rake is a hard feat given that it is at least 10%. Over the long run, that is an incredibly huge amount of money. And you pay the rake regardless of whether you win or lose.

Being better than your opponent isn't good enough. You have to be skilled at maximizing profit. This is what most people don't understand.

I know very skilled players who win a lot of hands... but are losers... because they don't know how to maximize their winning value to surpass the rake.

Re:The rake is the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867704)

The rake is a factor that any skilled player has to take into account, especially if they play a conservative game. If you aim for a handful of small pots, the rake can kill you. If you're a bit more aggressive and bump up the pots, however, you can more easily overcome the rake if it's capped, as most rakes are, at least at the tables I've played at.

A capped rake quickly becomes significantly less than 10%. For example, most of the $1/$2 no limit tables in Vegas have a 10% rake capped at $4. At a full table, 7 people trying to see a flop, followed by one 3x raise and 2 callers gives you $24 in the pot after $2 gets raked. If one player bets $15 on the flop and gets one caller, the pot's at $50 with the rake at the $4 cap, meaning it's already down to 8%. If an action card comes on the turn, a pot-sized bet drops the rake to 4% before it even gets called. If there's any further action at all, the rake is utterly insignificant.

If you're playing at a table that doesn't cap the rake, move to another table.

Re:The rake is the problem... (1)

javabandit (464204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867890)

I think you are seriously understating the rake...

Of course the rake is capped. If it weren't, nobody would play. Because the rake would be unbeatable by even the most skilled of players. Any rake is intended to maximize the house's profit while still keeping good and bad players interested in playing.

The situation you describe is a rare one. For every hand where the "rake doesn't matter", there are probably 10 or 20 hands where the rake DOES matter. Hands where you paid an ante to simply fold. Hands where you paid a rake to fold on the turn. This happens WAY more often than not.

Like you said, you can't be a winning player by winning only the small pots. I'll go further to say that you can't be a winning layer by winning medium pots. The only way you can be a winning player is to maximize the profit potential of all hands -- small, medium, and large.

Re:The rake is the problem... (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31869244)

Because the rake would be unbeatable by even the most skilled of players.

Are you saying that the most skilled players have less than a 10% (pre-rake) ROI? Because I can assure you that is not the case. Even in today's post-boom tough games the skilled players can easily see 20-30% ROI post-rake on Sit and Go tournaments, which are raked at 10%.

Re:The rake is the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31870662)

I think you are seriously understating the rake...

Again, I didn't say that the players don't have to overcome the rake, and I did state that this can be a challenge, especially for more conservative players. But I think that it's you who is overstating the rake.

In a game like Texas Hold'em, you don't pay the rake on every hand. You can fold 7 out of 9 hands for free and let the other players pay the rake. Increase the quality of your starting hands, and you decrease your odds of throwing away a pre-flop bet just to fold on the flop. If you can win one moderate-sized pot per hour, averaged out over the long run, and avoid the pots you have no business being involved with, you can generally stop thinking about the rake.

Of course, not everyone can do this. But it's not as huge a feat as you make it out to be. Don't forget, the rake is designed to be low enough to keep players at the table, and also low enough not to discourage tipping the dealer.

There's a reason that the Vegas casinos were all either closing or planning to close their poker rooms just before the big poker trend came around. The rake doesn't make poker particularly profitable. Once it became a huge trend, sheer volume of players made it worthwhile for casinos to keep their rooms open, or reopen them if they had closed them. But the real profit in a poker room is the waiting list— players who sit down at the slots or blackjack tables while they're waiting for a poker table to open up.

Re:The rake is the problem... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31875796)

Like you said, you can't be a winning player by winning only the small pots.

Isn't that what "small ball poker" means?

(Then again, Negreanu says he's a small ball poker player, and he plays on High Stakes Poker every/practically every season.)

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865414)

So baseball is gambling, otherwise every 3-game series would come out 3-0 to the team with more skill.

And all those teams that got beat by lower seeds in the NCAA tournament this year? They should sue the NCAA for running a casino?

Having more skill means you have a better CHANCE of winning. Not that you will always win.

The best games, the ones that turn spectators into fanatics and leagues into industries, include a component of randomization to go with the skill.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31866064)

Yeah and if you play 1 frame with a professional bowler you can beat him, but if you play a full game you're almost certainly going to lose, and if you play with him a week it's a virtual lock. Luck factors into almost all competitive endeavors, it's just a question of how much.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866168)

Don't know, but if you have that attitude, I can guarantee I'll beat you nine times out of ten. Poker has a lot of skill, even though the cards themselves are random.

By the way, if you ever want to test your hypothesis that poker is not a game of skill, I invite you to join me in a few rounds of high stakes Texas Hold 'Em. It'll be really fair.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866314)

So only boring as shit activities count as games of skill to you then? No point doing them if one player is always going to win.

Basketball, baseball, football, cricket, tennis, golf, darts, chess, wrestling, boxing, go, bridge, poker, backgammon, street fighter 2, modern warfare 2, counter strike, and so and so on. None of these are games of skill? After all it's uncommon for baseball series to be won 4-0, etc. Extremely unlikely for a pitcher to get a strike every pitch or a batter to get a hit every pitch.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866594)

If your car is running like crap in Formula One all the skill in the world wont help you.

Checkout the mathematics of poker and look closely and you'll see skill is involved. Particularly games such as No-Limit Hold'Em and Pot-Limit Omaha. Those are extremely hard to solve problems. You'll see the combinatorics can be used effectively during games to assist with decision making, in what can be an extremely information sparse environment, and statistics can be used to track play over long periods with large sample sets. I'll admit it's not an easy game from any angle, but some players become effective winners using not only mathematics but other skill sets to win over time. Hence the professionals that consistently wins over large sample sets. One can't deny the proof of skill IMHO. You can find large sample sets on the internet in the form of hand history databases so dig in if you doubt.
 

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31866908)

For you and your buds poker is all luck, but for pros like Phil Ivey there is a ton of skill involved. I was watching High Stakes Poker on GSN a couple weeks ago and watched an incredible play by Phil Ivey. One player raised, another re-raised.. Phil looked down at his own cards and saw 52 offsuit... he thought about his options and pushed all in. The other 2 players folded their better (but still mediocre) hands. Only a pro like Phil Ivey has the experience and skill to read his opponents like this and make this play.

Poker is NOT always about the cards you are dealt.

Re:How can they say that it's a game of skill? (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867048)

Duke won the NCAA men's basketball championship, but they were clearly not the most talented team. Even in games of skill, there is luck involved. Does the ball bounce your way? Do you get an easy tournament draw? Heck, how do you feel that day? What about single game upsets? Those games where the favored team is clearly better and has more skill yet the other team 'got lucky.' Do those individual games suddenly become luck while the others are skill?

To say that because there is luck in a game that it can't also be a game of skill is simply not true.

Does it still criminalize other online gambling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31865066)

So apparently the bill no longer criminalizes online poker. Does it still criminalize other online gambling? Perhaps they just pacified the people who complained the loudest

PPA should come to Belgium (1)

Seth024 (1241160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865168)

Poker Player Alliance should come to Belgium.

The government will be forcing the ISPs to block all (foreign) online gambling sites and programs.
Only the regulated casino's will be able to offer poker games.

http://www.gamblingonlinemagazine.com/gambling-news-detail.php?articleID=1881 [gamblingon...gazine.com]

Why poker is bad as a career (2, Interesting)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865366)

The nature of poker is that it's impossible to create a system that can always win, at least practically. Ultimately it relies on gut feelings, or just whims. This makes me wonder what really goes through the mind of a poker player who's pondering the next move. Most of the time they are not playing a game of skill, but a game of deception, that's why they say things like "You don't play the cards, you play the players".

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865656)

Deception is skill. Playing the player is every bit as important as playing the "cards". This is true of nearly any sport/game. Two boxers may be physically identical with the same reaction times, strength, speed, technique, etc etc. But if one guy can make the other step in the wrong place (playing the player) then that "light" jab will put them right out.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865748)

But in poker deception has a dominant effect. People admire players who can pretend to play in certain way regardless of the cards they have. This is psychological warfare, and nobody is counting the cards.

What goes through the mind of a poker player (2, Informative)

craigmarq (1791204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868108)

Poker is a game of incomplete information. You use the information that you do have to draw conclusions and then you make bets based on those conclusions. Good poker players tend to think about poker hands in terms of hand ranges. A hand range is every poker hand that an opponent will take a certain action with. Ideally you'd like to narrow your opponents range down to a single hand because you can then play perfectly against him (it would be very easy to play perfectly against someone who showed you their cards). Unfortunately thats not possible very often as there are 169 non-equivalent poker hands and our opponent is going to play many of them similarly. Each different piece of information that we get from our opponent however allows us to narrow his range and make a better decision. For example if I'm playing in a 9 handed game and someone raises from UTG(stand for under the gun or the first player to act) he is acting with the least amount of information. Therefore he has to player a tighter(better) range of hands. He is more likely to have a premium holding because he made a bet with very little information. If someone were to raise from the button (the last player to act on every street) his range of hands is considerably wider because he has more information with which to make his decisions and can therefore play more hands profitably. Thats a very basic description of hand analysis, but some other information we take into account is our opponents past tendancies, their position, what they perceive our range to be based on the actions that we've taken, and obviously what cards we have and what cards end up coming out of the deck on the flop turn and river.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865674)

Most of the time they are not playing a game of skill, but a game of deception

Deception is a skill.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865876)

Well, this is getting vague. I had the impression that great poker players were math wizards. Or maybe their skillset has changed.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (2, Insightful)

jsvendsen (1668031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866338)

That's largely a myth. The mathematics of playing poker usually involves making simple calculations of pot odds or making rough estimates of the probability of your hand being a winner or your opponents folding to a bet or raise. You can be an excellent poker player with no explicit awareness of the mathematics that are the basis of your actions. The key traits common to most great poker players are situational awareness and pattern recognition.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867210)

The math you need to know is basic probability. I would say it's more important to have a good memory. When you end up in a showdown with another player can you remember all the other players previous hands and build a mental model off that to what they may do/might have?

You mentioned earlier that people admire players who play a certain way. Few players play that same way all the time. The most skilled players can switch styles mid game and adjust to the table. It's the switching styles that makes it hard for another skilled player to build a accurate mental model of their opponent.

When you see players on TV guess another players cards what they are 'reading' is all the past bets of the their opponent. The particular opponent has been playing a certain style and it shows up fairly quickly in his betting habits.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867490)

Or maybe their skillset has changed.

There are different types of players with different skill sets. If you're Chris Ferguson [wikipedia.org] , you play a mathematical game. If you're Scotty Nguyen [wikipedia.org] , you play a psychological game. If you're me [wikipedia.org] , you make lots of mistakes and hope to get lucky once in a while. :)

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (2, Informative)

bmk67 (971394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865728)

The nature of poker is that it's impossible to create a system that can always win, at least practically. Ultimately it relies on gut feelings, or just whims. This makes me wonder what really goes through the mind of a poker player who's pondering the next move.

Of course it's impossible to create a system that will always win. That would be stupid - the bad players have to be able to win occasionally, or else they won't come back.

I can't tell you want goes through anyone else's mind, but I can tell you some of the things I consider when I'm deciding what my next action will be.

What is my opponent likely to have? (Skill: Logic, memory, and observation of prior action)

How does my hand stand up against the weighted range of hands he is likely to have? (Skill: mathematics)

If I deduce that I'm likely behind in the hand, how likely is my opponent to fold if I bet or raise? (Skill: observation and memory)

If I'm behind, am I getting good odds to call? (Skill: mathematics)

If I deduce that I'm likely ahead in the hand, how likely is my opponent to call if I bet or raise? (Skill: observation and memory)

If I'm ahead, how much to I need to bet to protect my hand from draws? (Skill: mathematics)

Is my opponent exhibiting any behavior or physiological signs? (Skill: observation and understanding what the various tells are likely to mean)

Those are just a few of the factors that I consider. Only a few of them have anything to do with what I'm holding. All of them are intended to lead me to lose the minimum when I lose a hand, and win the maximum when I win.

It doesn't always work out in a particular hand, of course - but if I make better decisions than my opponent, over the long run, I'll win, and he'll lose. Poker is a game of imperfect information, and therefore cannot guarantee results in a particular hand. It is nonetheless a skill game.

Most of the time they are not playing a game of skill, but a game of deception, that's why they say things like "You don't play the cards, you play the players".

Deception is skill. Understanding psychology is skill. You're operating under a common misconception. Poker is not a card game. Poker is a psychological game that happens to be played with cards.

Re:Why poker is bad as a career (1)

jsvendsen (1668031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31866420)

Mod parent up. His analysis is excellent.

Pinball is a game of skill even when parts of it l (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865442)

Pinball is a game of skill even when parts of it are luck.

Mass Gambling... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865452)

I thought that was the lottery was for?

Stop calling it "gaming"! (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31865502)

Remember when Greece outlawed "gaming" devices, so everybody with a built-in Tetris clone in their cellphone was automatically a criminal smuggling illegal goods? This is betting, wagering, or gambling, which is a subset of gaming in general.

Poker?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31865716)

I don't even know her!!

Poker Should be Unrestricted (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867242)

I came from a chess background but I'm also a hobby poker player. The government has no right to decide what I do with my own money. I consider restrictions on online poker a huge invasion of my privacy. Moreover, it's also quite hypocritical given that states support lotteries, horseracing and other gambling operations. The only reason poker is sometimes singled out is because casinos want a monopoly on the market and states want to tax poker income and operators but have not come up with a good system yet. They need to leverage the free market system and offer licenses to companies who wish to compete here.

As for whether poker is a game of skill, I can only speak of no-limit holdem since I am not familiar with PLO or other forms. There is a tremendous amount of skill involved in this game even though it might not seem like it at first. When I started, I thought all it would take was to play TT+ and AQ+. In fact, it worked at my stakes, .01, .02 cents. However, at higher levels, you have to carefully consider your opponent's range based on position, stack size, history, bet-size, table dynamics, VPIP and PFR statistics etc. Then you often have to consider what he thinks your range is and what he'll think you're representing with your own actions. Especially at 6-max where you play more hands and have to use player dependent reads, there is incredible complexity. I cannot possibly go into this too deeply here but if you visit training sites and watch videos for NL200 and above, you'll get a flavor of the amount of thought that goes into real poker. With that said, poker is a long-term game and you may be a winning player but lose for 50K hands and vice versa. The important thing is making the right decisions, not any one day or even week. Plus, if poker wasn't a skill game, there wouldn't be so many winners even at high-stakes over MILLIONS of hands. This player comes to mind: http://www.pokertableratings.com/stars-player-search/nanonoko among many others.

I should note that all of the above refers to DEEP STACKED CASH GAMES (100BB or more). Shortstacked poker takes far less skill because there is so much less room to maneuver. Tournament poker is also with much less skill for the same reason. Most tournaments start with ~50BB and then go down to as few as 7BB average in later stages. Tournament poker also restricts your ability to make correct, +EV decisions because you have to be afraid of getting knocked out by a bad beat. For instance, you may be pretty confident that your opponent has high cards but you can't call his all-in with 88 being a 1% favorite on the bubble. The risk is too high. As Harrington once wrote, tournament poker is a lottery where some players get more tickets than others. A good player still has an edge in tournaments but that edge is much smaller than in cash games and it also involves infinitely high variance. A good online MTT player may have 6-7 big wins a whole year with months passing where he just loses money.

Anyway, if you will inform yourself, I'm sure you will agree with this. At first I thought it was silly when someone told me that he thought poker was more complex than chess. I laughed and said, he only had three choices, check, bet/raise, or fold and that couldn't possibly be too complex. How wrong I was... I still believe chess at high levels is significantly more complex than poker but poker is a very rich game too.

no one here plays poker? (2, Insightful)

ramul (1103299) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867338)

There is a luck and a skill side to poker. The luck side keeps the bad players in with their occasional wins, thinking they are good at poker or are overall winners, while the skill side wins money in the long run. The effect of having good or bad cards dealt is described as variance, if you look at a winning poker players profit/loss graph it will be a bumpy road upwards. The individual bumps are short term variance, the overall trend reflects the skill of the player.

How can skill count ? What if you have a middle pair, youre opponent has top pair, and he bets the river. You raise...because you know he's a player that can fold a top pair type hand based on his previous play, and based on your tight image, and based on the cards on the table. He folds the better hand. So its not JUST luck, its strategy and perception of your own image and your opponents playing tendencies.
Skill is also about extracting the maximum amount of value out of your better hands, and FOLDING when you know youre beat.

If you want to read some real poker strategy go to a poker strategy site and browse the theory articles, judging by the discussion here a lot of you will be surprised at the amount of strategy in the game.

And just to answer a previous post by someone, yea phil ivey is (one of) the best poker players, but tournaments are extremly high variance - you need to play a lot of them before you can judge if you are a winning player or not. Cash games are lower variance generally.

Re:no one here plays poker? (2, Insightful)

P-Nuts (592605) | more than 4 years ago | (#31869464)

Yeah, I thought online poker would appeal more to the Slashdot crowd too. The main poker site is the Two Plus Two forums [twoplustwo.com] , and there's a lot of good strategy advice to be found amongst a fair amount of childish rants.

I play micro-stakes cash games. Last night I played 1000 hands and lost six buy-ins, but I think I played reasonably well nonetheless. Statistics backs me up as I turned a small profit according to "all-in expected value" (a calculation that removes the luck factor from hands where all the chips went in with cards still to come). It's just a bit annoying as I was hoping to move up stakes soon, and it will probably take me several thousand hands longer now.

Re:no one here plays poker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31870052)

haha bad luck mate. i play 10nl on stars and 25nl is in my headlights baby, cya on the tablez

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