There is a song by a South Africa band called Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em, and in that song contains the very secret of poker, and one that goes some way to answering the question of is the game based around luck, or skill?
The lyrics go something like “Know when to hold em/know when to fold em/know when to call it quits”. But knowing these three things can take some time; and even better still, putting them into practise can take the longest amount of time yet.
Skilful poker players can win hands when they have bad cards, now that isn’t just down to blind luck. That takes skill, that takes nerve and it take experience.
In 2011, a gambling analyst by the name of Chad Hills told the New York Times that poker is a game of blind luck, by saying: “(Nobody) can tell you what the next card flipped over is going to be.” This, of course, is true, and a game can be won and lost of the flip of the last card. However, a football match can be won on the last decision by a referee or a horse race by the condition of the track. In short, most things that can be won with skill also require an element of luck as well.
The important thing about poker is that the really good players, that ones that win games out of skill rather than luck, do not just play one game. They will play lots of games, and even if they are losing they will minimise the amount they lose, and if they win, they will make a lot of money.
Sure, poker is influenced by luck, but it is not controlled by it. This is the reason and the reason alone that there are so many professional poker players around the world, but millions more kitchen table and casual gamblers. The reason? They lack the skill and dedication of their professional peers.
Games that do rely on luck, such as Roulette, have no professional players, because they are a luck game, pure and simple.
Steven Levitt and Thomas Miles analysed some play during the WSOP in 2010, and they found out that more skilful players would have a better return on their investment, around 30% more in face. Cigital analysed over 100 million hands of poker at Pokerstars.com, and their findings showed that 76% of these 100 million + hands went to a showdown, which shows that a random flip of a card had no impact.
All this proves once and for all that Poker is a game of skill, not one of pure luck, no matter how much poor players want to believe so.