A question of luck versus skill

 

Click here to read latest Poker news


2008-02-12

I have always said, and I will always maintain that poker is a game of skill, first and foremost. This is not to say there isn't a luck factor involved because there undoubtedly is. But over time, luck runs out and those left standing more often than not are those with the highest skill levels. This is what I wanted to discuss with you, the luck vs. skill debate.

Short-term, poker at lower limits is a game of luck, but long term, the game shifts to one of skill. You can ask any player in the world, even the most successful ones in the world, and they will tell you that they do, in fact lose sessions. This is because even bad players get lucky once in a while but the skillful player is the winner over time.

Have you heard the phrase "it's better to be lucky than good"? Well, this is the mantra of the bad player. If your play is good enough, you can make your own good luck and be a winner. As long as you maintain your focus and discipline, a good player will win back whatever he loses soon after a losing session. Your luck comes and goes, but your skill is with you every day. So, in the long term, good players do beat bad players. It's as simple as that.

What if you're purely a recreational player? The same holds true. If you enjoy the game and play seriously, over time, your skill level will continue to increase and you will have better results. Those of you who are playing because you have nothing else better to do, well luck is your only ally and without it, you will lose more often than not.

Let's take a look at a classic real example. Let's say you are holding KK. You lose to a player who is holding AA. Does this mean he is a better player? Of course not, he was just lucky to have a better hand than you. The same applies if the roles were reversed. This is a perfect example of the concept of short-term luck.

If you are a thinking player, as long as you challenge yourself continually to play your best poker in the long run, and learn to live with the short-term luck factor you will be a consistent winner with more ups than downs.

Until next time, may the chips fall your way.