Taking a Stab at the Old Skill Vs. Luck Argument

It's the age old argument in poker. How much of the game is skill and how much is just  luck. The simple answer is it's both. When I began my poker career, I had this debate numerous times. I had to convince my friends and my parents that poker is not just a game of luck, but a game that takes talent to be good at. At first they didn't want to hear that I was interested in playing poker and that I had ambitions of being a professional gambler, but the more I started to clean up at home games and win online a little bit the more they started to see my side of the story. I think good ole Mike Mcdermott says it the best while trying to convince his stubborn girlfriend, "Why does this still seem like gambling to you? I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY SINGLE YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It's a skill game, Jo." He's right though. Is it coincidence that Doyle Brunson won back-to-back main events and Johnny Chan was one horrible call against Helmuth in 89 from 3-peating. Erik Seidel has been absolutely crushing 2011 against the highest competition and has over $6,000,000 in live tournament winnings but he's just extremely lucky right? These skills that separate the elite poker players from the average ones include patience, the ability to observe, a good memory, and an understanding of knowing what is a profitable play and what isn't. Statistical and mathematical factors such as pot odds and implied odds are extremely  important to making the right play. Also one of the biggest tools in live poker is the ability to read your opponents for strength and weakness.


The luck factor can be easily solved with the understanding of one simple concept: variance. Variance is simply something that is learned in high school algebra that is the be all end all of the "luck" in poker. A good player knows that getting it all in with pocket kings against an under pair gives you an 81% chance of winning the hand. That simply means that 8 times out of 10 you should win the hand. So while yes. a mentally challenged monkey with no arms can beat you in that pot, a good poker player realizes that they made the right play and that in the long run if they keep making that play they will be a winning player. It takes a long sample to prove that you're a winning player. Any one can win in the short term with a little bit of luck but that's why you only hear about pros who win on a consistent basis. The bottom line is of course there's luck involved in poker, as long as you have at least one out there's always a chance you can win, but the skill absolutely outweighs the luck when it comes to being a successful poker player.


In actual poker news Brian Hastings and Jason Mercier are still left in the field of the 2K WPT Regional event at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. They are now in the money. Mercier has about 350K and Hastings is towards the top of the leader board with 950K.


[caption id="attachment_13" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Jason Mercier is one of the best players in the world and ITM at the WPT Regional in Florida"][/caption]

Some good news for online poker players... from New Jersey. On August 25th, Senator Raymond Lesniak plans to reintroduce a bill that would legalize online gambling in New Jersey. The bill was shot down by Governor Chris Christie earlier this year. If the bill is passed, which that A-Hole Christie better do, it will combine Atlantic City Casinos and both the Monmouth and Meadowlands racetracks into one online gambling conglomerate and will bring online poker back to the Garden State.

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