Sunday, June 14, 2009

Slow times, and an obvious observation

I haven't played a whole lot of poker over the last month or so. A few cash game sessions, and a handful of tournaments and SNGs. I played the PokerWorks Family 8-Game tourney on PokerStars both times in May; won the first one, busted 8th of 9 in the second. I cashed in a SNG on Full Tilt for the first time in almost two months, so that was nice, although it wasn't even close to a big enough payout to offset my losses there. Now I will be away from the virtual tables for a couple of weeks on vacation. I'll be back, though.

Congratulations to CK for her cash in the $2,500 WSOP Omaha 8/Stud 8 Event! That is awesome.

The poker bill in the Texas legislature didn't make it through, but its sponsor said he plans to bring it up again next session. Let's hope they can take it all the way next time.

Here's a bit of information that my mind came up with regarding the skill vs. luck debate about poker, which I can't recall having read or heard elsewhere yet. I would think it must have appeared somewhere because it is so obvious, but I certainly haven't read EVERYTHING written about poker, so I'm sure I just missed it.

Poker has an element of luck about it; no one disputes that. The people who think that poker is just a gambling exercise in which skill does not play an important role are, I suspect, forgetting an extremely important fact about the game that sets it apart from so many other games.

In poker, there are two ways to win a hand or a pot:

1. To have the best hand at showdown
2. To be the last active player after everyone else has folded

#1 is more dependent on luck; if you don't get good cards dealt to you, you are less likely to have the best hand of those that go to showdown. But, skill still counts: if you know what the odds are of having a better hand, or of drawing to a better hand, than your opponents, then you can play your hands in such a way as to increase your chances of winning more, or of losing less.

#2 is where skill is even more important. If you can play in such a way that you get all of your opponents to fold in a given hand, then you win the pot without needing to show the best hand. Luck plays a much smaller role in this part of the game. (Yes, if your opponents are all dealt crap hands, you may not need to use much skill to get them to fold.)

This is way oversimplified, but the fact remains that it is the two-fold nature of winning in poker that, as I see it, makes it predominantly a game of skill compared to other gambling games. I hope that those who oppose poker thinking that it is all up to luck will realize this and allow poker its place as a legitimate game of skill that should not be lumped in with strictly-chance games.