Is Poker A Game Of Skill Or Luck? An Analysis

Is poker a game of skill or luck? This question has been up for debate for a very long time, and professional players add a new dimension to the argument.

Why Chance?

One of the primary arguments for poker being luck-based is that an entire match can change based solely on the next flipped card, which can never be accurately anticipated. This is true, however the game is slightly larger than this logic suggests. If a person only ever participated in one match and it went to showdown, then it may have been decided by chance. This, however, is rarely the case.

Luck in All Games

Naturally, luck has some role in poker, just as it does in any game. It is true: an entire match can change after one card flip. However, it also cannot be denied that a good player holds a fair amount of skill as well, or professionals could not exist - and they do.


One interesting argument for the question "is poker a game of skill or luck?" is that there are professionals who make their living by playing. If all matches were decided solely by luck, this would be impossible; there would be too much risk to make a living off of. It is clear that professionals could easily win against more casual players, so there must be some skill involved.


After the 2010 world series, it was found that the highest-ranked players could average a 30% return on their investments, while others averaged a -15% return. The ability to consistently have these results is a strong indication that chance does not have as large a role as it may seem. As well, it was found that 76% of matches of Texas Hold'Em ended before the showdown that carried the chance-based card flip, meaning that decisions made during the round were what decided the victor.


In nearly half of the analyzed matches, just under half of the time, the person who could have made the best possible hand folds before a showdown. This is a decision that directly affects who will win the round, and brings to mind an interesting argument: it is possible to purposefully lose a game of poker. However, it is impossible to lose a game of roulette because roulette is entirely based on chance and poker is not.


It appears that chance does not have as strong a role in Texas Hold'Em as is commonly believed. Although it certainly has some power, the individual player has far more.

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