Poker : Luck Or Strategy

A lot of people don’t understand the beauty of playing a game of poker with skill. Their sole argument is that poker is a game of chance and anyone can win with some good luck. "The beautiful thing about poker is that everybody thinks they can play." There is no denying that luck plays a part but the question should be which of the elements dominates? Luck or skill?

Well, Let's see how to debunk this conundrum.

In other games of luck like roulette, dice and lotteries There is little to none human element involved.  With Poker it's the exact opposite. The really good players in poker "Don’t play the cards, they play the players".  In poker you can win even if you get the worst possible cards. This strategy is called Bluffing and involves "Bullying" . Basically you represent your hand by consistent high bets so that others Fold and you never actually have to show the cards.

The body language reading part is very reduced in online poker. But if you are a terrible liar like me, you can use it to your advantage. Online poker is all about betting according to your position with respect to the dealer and other players. For example: If you  Limp at early positions i.e. just call the big blind then you may suffer. This is because most experienced players will raise you and you will have to end up folding.

In a scientific study published in the PLOS One journal  by renowned statistician Rogier J. D. Potter van Loon  analysed 450 million hands played online over a year. The first question was how consistent is player performance? They found the role of skill inextricably woven into the game. Players who finished in the best-performing 1% in the first six months of the year were 12 times more likely than others to repeat the feat in the next 6 months too.

They also noted that three-quarters of all hands never go to showdown. Only about twelve percent of hands are actually won by the best hand. So the strategy of big stack bully and bluffing are legitimate strategies and can actually provide decent results even over large sample sizes.

A really interesting concept they found in the study was "the tipping point." Skilled players can expect to do better than their relatively unskilled counterparts at least three quarters of the time after 1,471 hands have been played. To put this into perspective, most online players are likely to play 1,500 hands in less than 24 hours of total gameplay.

So the genuine dedicated players can now rest assured knowing that the game they love demands and rewards genuine proficiency and that in the end talent and guile will usually triumph over blind luck.

Globally  Poker is recognised to be a game requiring a high level of intellect and mental prowess. Statisticians, economists and chess grandmasters globally have accepted that the game of poker involves substantial degree of skill.  So the next time someone tries to say that poker is just dumb luck gambling, you can show them the facts and continue to play the next hand on 9stacks peacefully.

You can access the study I quoted, here.

Keep Playing, Keep winning.

Signing off,


(Yash C)