Is Poker Gambling?
GDC Trading Ltd takes no responsibility for your actions. Because of the influx of new players in recent years, you will find on sites such as 32Red that there will always be more tables with lower blinds. Frequently asked questions and answers about playing poker at PokerStars. Thankfully, a few fine folks out there have done much of the legwork already by creating a massive database of video poker payback percentages from all across North America. They cannot be applied systematically across all forms of human activity. Your email address will not be published. Well the fact here is that the same faces appear on the last tables of the WSOP every year.
A Pragmatic Approach to Poker as "Gambling"
Although that doesn't mean that some folks aren't better at it than others. I penned the Dictionary of Psychology 4th Edition, Penguin Books buy many copies, give them to your friends. I can use the royalties and struggled with the term. I decided that it only made sense to treat it as a setting where something of value is put at risk for the possibility of ultimate gain. This seemed fairly straightforward but, alas, this definition turns out to cover just about every interesting thing that people do.
Buying stocks is gambling, as is commodities trading, investing in real estate, getting married, planting a tree, going to college, opening a small business. Every freaking thing is gambling! Which, of course, is true; but unbounded truth isn't very useful. To be practical we need to dig deeper. From a legal perspective the issue turns on the determination of "predominance. No one has ever argued that opening a small business is a "gamble" although it manifestly is because the standard interpretation is that the business acumen of the proprietor is the key factor and "dominates" any contribution that chance elements might play.
Lotteries and roulette wheels, slot machines and crap tables are all unambiguously classified as "gambles" because the overwhelming determinant of the ultimate outcomes is chance. For the better part of our history, poker had been viewed by the courts as "gambling" on the grounds that luck was the predominant element. This legal stance is important because it allows states and nations that have anti-gambling statues to criminalize the game. Recently a number of important rulings in the US have turned this interpretation around.
In Colorado, Pennsylvania and North Carolina judges and juries have determined that, in fact, the skill elements override the chance factors and that, in legal terms, poker is not gambling. From a pragmatic perspective it seems fairly clear that neither the lexicographic nor the legal solutions satisfy for a simple reason. They cannot be applied systematically across all forms of human activity. What's needed is the recognition that there are two underlying dimensions that characterize the vast majority of human enterprises, in particular the "games" we play.
The normative expected value EV of the game. That is, what is the typical outcome for the average player of any "game? In other "games" the EV isn't simple but can be estimated. For example, going to medical school is a huge gamble tuition, time, effort but it has a positive normative EV because the average doctor makes back these expenses plus a lot more.
But it's still a gamble and there are more than a few who have lost big. They never graduate, fail to pass the licensing exams or are just lousy doctors. Starting a small business is a highly regarded enterprise in our culture but it is a gamble and one with large negative EV; over half fail within five years. Marriage is another gamble with significantly negative EV.
Like opening a small business, over half end in divorce. Poker also happens to be a "game" with significant negative EV because of the rake. If all poker players were of equivalent skill then all would be losers. But, this pragmatic stance has another dimension to it:.
The flexibility of the game. Flexibility refers to the things that the player can do to shift his or her personal EV. Some games, like roulette , have virtually no flexibility. There is nothing you can do that will modify the EV.
Craps has a bit more flexibility in that you can adjust the bets you make to reduce the house edge. Opening a small business has huge flexibility and the business acumen of the proprietor is critical in determining the outcome.
This is why the legal establishment regards such "games" as lying outside the standard prohibitions that many have against gambling. In fact, most of the enterprises that people engage in that are marked by high flexibility are virtually never thought of as "gambling" -- but from this pragmatic stance they are. Arthur Reber has been a poker player and serious handicapper of thoroughbred horses for four decades.
He outlined a new framework for evaluating the ethical and moral issues that emerge in gambling for an invited address to the International Conference of Gaming and Risk Taking.
Among his various visiting professorships was a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Do you consider owning a casino to be gambling? They are taking all the bets, when someone hits blackjack they casino loses. The same can be said of poker. A good poker player might lose a hand or a game or have a losing day, week or even month.
But a true pro will never lose for an entire year. A pro doesn't see it as gambling because they know they are going to win, much the same as the casino owner knows he is going to win. What the article alludes to, but doesn't say outright is this: It's only gambling if you are not very good at it. The key test of whether a betting game is gambling or not should be 'can you substantially influence the result of the game through your skill repeatedly over many games'.
If the answer is yes as with poker and blackjack; but not sports betting, most casino games, lotteries and bingo then irrespective of whether chance plays a part in the running of the game - even if for an unskilled player luck is the overriding factor determining success - it is incorrect to consider it gambling.
Betting on an odd-on favourite in a horse race is gambling, as you can still lose your stake. Betting pre-flop with pocket aces is gambling, as you can still lose your stake. Poker is obviously gambling.
It's different to other forms of gambling such as sports betting or roulette, however, because you have a chance to manipulate the odds of winning, by choosing when to call, raise, fold, bluff etc. Once the horses have left the starting boxes, or the two teams in the Superbowl have run on to the field, you cannot affect the outcome.
You made your bet and then you are stuck with it. In hold 'em, a player can affect the outcome before the flop, and after the flop, turn and river. In a way, this means that each hand of poker can have more gambling on it than any single event. Add up all the hands played in a lifetime and a poker player has gambled much more than he possibly could if he bet on every horse race he ever saw. I'm guessing your statistics certifications are comprised of reading Poker for Complete and Total Morons several times to help you grind microstakes.
To put it in poker moron terms you'd understand, EV is a measure of "equity", not just probability. And so on for your other examples. In Jacks or Better, which is the standard video poker game, the payout on a royal flush when playing five coins is significantly higher than all the others.
When you wager a single coin, a royal flush pays out at to 1. When you wager two coins, it pays out at twice that, or coins. But when you wager five coins, a royal flush pays out at coins, which is 16 times the amount of a single coin. The best video poker game to start with is Jacks or Better. Once you understand the fundamentals of Jacks or Better, all the other games become variations. The best pay table available on a Jacks or Better game offers a payback percentage of Your initial strategy goal in Jacks or Better is to find a full pay game, which is the variant offering that big All of the payouts for all the other hands are the same from game to game.
On a full pay Jacks or Better machine, a full house pays off at 9 to 1, and a flush pays off at 6 to 1. Other machines have lower payouts for these hands. Some pay off at 8 to 1 and 5 to 1 respectively, while others pay off at 7 to 1 and 5 to 1.
The lower payouts, of course, result in lower payback percentages on the machines, as follows:. Why is this so important? The payout percentage determines mathematically how much you can expect to lose over the long run on a game. The house edge is the percentage that the casino expects to win of every bet you make over the long term.
It should be clear why finding a good pay table matters so much. The next big consideration in video poker is learning the mathematically correct way to play every hand. This is similar to learning basic strategy in blackjack. Video poker strategy for Jacks or Better is dramatically different than video poker strategy for Deuces Wild.
But all of the strategies have some things in common. You have 32 different ways you can play each 5 card hand. You have 2 options for each card—hold it or discard it.
The correct play in every situation is the one with the highest expected return. Computers are able to determine mathematically which play has the highest expected return. A video poker strategy for a game takes into account the expected return for every hand.
These strategies and tactics are not mathematically perfect—they have to be practical enough to actually be used in a casino, which means that accuracy is sometimes sacrificed to make the decisions easier.