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Most people consider Poker purely a game of chance with no actual skill required. The German Regional recently, in a landmark case, decided that Poker was indeed a game of chance, where the player has very little chance to influence the gaming. If it was that simple, it would make the life of all those us learning the game a lot easier- hell it would make my life a lot easier.
However considering poker purely as a game of chance would pretty much kill the industry that has developed around the game, which has witnessed a spectacular boom. If poker was only a game of chance, you would not find the countless poker strategy books or web pages devoted purely to poker strategies for every possible and impossible scenario. If poker was a game of chance, then we would never have the joy of watching Daniel Negreanu pitted against 'Mimi' Tran or Phil Ivey. Considering poker purely as a game of chance, does not in all fairness, give the game its due credit. Granted, there is a certain element of chance and luck in the game, but does that make it automatically a game of chance- nobody considers tennis a game of chance, when the ball hits the top of the net and falls into the opponents side of the court instead of yours, or in football when a 20m shot goes into the top corner of the goal. Fine, you need to know what you are doing; however, lets be honest: even Wesley Schneijnder has maybe a 20% chance that the ball is going to hit the target like that, as the fateful Holland-Russia game showed in the last European Cup.
Considering poker a game of chance does not do the game any justice, and anyone who has actually played the game, or seen some of the greats play will unanimously agree that poker requires a great deal of skill. A poker game is not won by the cards on the table, or the two or five (depending on the game you are playing) cards in your hand. It might win you one hand, and not even that is guaranteed. A poker player has to consider an infinite amount of factors, indicators, statistics and probabilities before deciding his move. You are just as likely to loose a two Ace hand as you are to win with a suited or not suited four and five. A poker game is not won in a hand, but a good poker player needs to find a coherent strategy to move from table to table and eventually winning the final heads- up. As poker player, you need a betting strategy, you need variation, keep your opponents guessing, and above all you need to anticipate, you need to have far sight and you need to know how the land lies. People have lost a good hand followed by a good flop. How often has it come down to the river, the best in the business have fallen to the curse of the river, where that two percent chance was actually better than your 98% probability. Poker tactics can mean making the statistically incorrect play in-order to trick your opponents into thinking you have a hand you don’t.
At the end of the day, one just needs to consider this idea; lets take one simple scenario, two players compete for a tournament, 200 hands are dealt to win, a purely mathematical argument must surely be that each player has even over 100 hands roughly the same amount of good hands as bad hands, true a player might have 5 or 6 goods hands in a row- but 100 that’s really lady luck. Poker is not a question of having a good hand, and hoping that the other has a bad, it’s about making the best out of the hand you got. The sooner you realise this the better, otherwise it might actually turnout to be a very “unlucky” game.