Sunday, May 6, 2007
Luck be a lady
Apparently, a number of academics have jumped on the bandwagon to define "poker" as being a game of "skill" rather than a game of "chance." There's big money at stake, as it were, since the status of poker affects not only casino gambling, but the huge online gaming industry as well. Back in September, Congress barred online wagers on any "game predominately subject to chance."
The Wall Street Journal reports that Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson recently convened a meeting of academics and poker buffs to strategize on ways to get poker defined as a game of skill. In one 1989 California Circuit Court decision, the court held that poker is a game of skill, but the case law is constantly evolving -- where it stops, nobody knows.
Clearly poker involves skill (just try keeping a poker face), but is it more skill than luck? The traditional definition of gambling recognizes the element of skill. Black's Law Dictionary says that gambling occurs "where there is a chance for profit if a player is skillful and lucky."
As for poker, the word is thought to derive from poque, which was an archaic French bluffing game. But is bluffing a matter of luck, or skill?