Are the world’s most successful poker players products of hard work and skill? Or are the highest-earning players in the history of the game simply the luckiest?
The debate on whether poker is a game of skill or luck will probably persist for as long as poker exists. Like all gambling games, luck does play a major role in poker, especially in the short term.
Poker is different than any other form of gambling, however. Unlike the other games on a casino floor, poker is a game of skill, and the world’s top pros make money because they’re the best players in the game.
Let’s take a look at what makes poker a game of skill:
Is Poker a Game of Skill or Luck?
In the long term, poker is a game of skill. If a good player competes against weaker players for long enough, the good player will eventually win.
Poker is the only casino game that pits players against each other. All other casinos games involve players competing against the house.
Games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and slots all give a mathematical edge to the casino. While it’s possible to win money at these games in the short term, the house edge makes them impossible to beat in the long term.
Poker, on the other hand, allows players to compete against each other. The house takes a cut of each pot, or in some cases charges players for time spent at the table.
The house cut in poker is known as rake. To make a profit in poker, you must not only win money from your opponents, but also win enough to overcome the rake.
If you put in the time and effort to get better, you can make money at poker in the long term. Some of the keys to success in poker include:
- Studying – The best players put in ample study time away from the table. If you put time into studying the game, you’ll always have an edge against players that don’t.
- Game Selection – Playing in the most profitable games is perhaps the biggest factor for poker success.
- Volume – Luck is a factor in poker in the short term. The higher the volume of hands you play, however, the less effect lick has on your win rate.
- Bankroll Management – Be sure to only play the games in which you’re financially equipped to play.
Does Luck Play Any Role in Poker?
All poker hands involve an element of luck. For example, in Texas Hold’em, pocket aces are an 81 percent favorite in a preflop matchup against pocket kings.
Any hand with 81 percent equity is about as favorable as it gets in poker. Pocket kings will still win about one in every five matchups against pocket aces, however.
When playing poker, you’ll go through unlucky stretches that might seem mathematically impossible. Sometimes the weaker player that goes all-in with 20 percent equity wins, and even the best players will find themselves on the losing end of hands that they played perfectly.
In spite of the effect of short-term luck, playing poker against players that aren’t as good as you, for long enough, will result in profit.