Freakonomics: Poker Is Skill, Not Luck
Pros have drastically better return on investment
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted May 24, 2011 2:37 PM CDT
John Racener, left, and Johnathan Duhamel, right, compete in the World Series of Poker in Vegas last year.   (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

(Newser) – With the US cracking down on online poker, Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt has published a study demonstrating that it’s a game of skill, not a game of chance. That’s a major distinction, because games of chance are forbidden as gambling under state and federal laws, whereas games of skill aren’t, the Chicago Tribune explains. Levitt, a major poker aficionado, analyzed World Series players the same way investors analyze stocks, and discovered that top pros boast a drastically better return-on-investment.

Highly skilled players earned more than 30% back on their initial investment on average, whereas all other players lost an average 15.6%. That’s far too large a gap to be explained by random chance, Levitt and his co-author conclude. Many other studies have come to similar conclusions, but courts keep on ruling that poker is gambling anyway. “Levitt’s study will have no more influence than any of the other 20 such studies out there,” one lawyer predicts. (Levitt isn't the only numbers guy who like to play poker.)

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Showing 3 of 24 comments
Lewdac
May 27, 2011 1:00 AM CDT
Soooooo, just logged in to my pokerstars account. "According government regulations you must cash out any money you have" clicked cancel. Again the same message. So I clicked okay. Instead of cashing out I tried to add to my position. "According to gov. regulations you can't add to your account" Hey government..........none of your fucking business how I spend my 50 bucks.......Hey libs, you could use this and get some/all of my money by taxing the my winning and the company that accepts my bet but you are more interested in making sure you impose your "morals" on me. GFY
carbonatedturtle
May 26, 2011 11:45 AM CDT
If I were to challenge Steve Nash to a few games of 1 on 1, I would undoubtedly lose every single time. I'd be very lucky to even score on him once. However, I could walk into any casino, and potentially walk out a rich man, but I've played very little poker in my life. While the odds might favour the "pros", they're not actually pro gamblers, they're pro liars, and that only goes so far.
paul123
May 25, 2011 2:08 PM CDT
Poker is mostly skill, but there is some small percentage of luck involved. You can count cards/use percentages, bluffing, reading your opponent, whatever method, but when it comes down to it, but, there is still a small amount left for luck