One of the most long fought and seemingly endless debates about poker, namely whether or not it is a game of chance, has taken a turn for the worse for Europe’s poker players. A UK court of appeals declared earlier this week that poker is definitely more a game of “chance” than skill.
This issue has been especially controversial in the UK because the private company Gunshot Poker Club has been waging a legal battle to have the game formerly codified as a one of skill and not of chance. The reason being that if they are one day successful in their efforts, poker companies will no longer be required to operate with a gambling license.
Gunshot Poker, which currently operates a popular online poker room, opened up an actual live poker room for players to play in. The building was promptly shut down by UK authorities on the grounds that they were offering a game of “chance” without a proper license.
Gunshot’s owners immediately began a legal attack against the prosecution claiming that poker was not a game of chance, but purely a game of skill and therefore not prohibited under the 1968 Gaming Act. During the first trial, American business law professor Joe Kelly testified that "poker is overwhelmingly a game of skill."
Despite their efforts Gunshot Poker lost the case. They quickly appealed but the final ruling was that, “poker contains a significant element of chance, and therefore is prohibited."
It would have been interesting to see the UK court’s arguments claiming that poker is more a game of chance than skill. Of course, nobody will argue that there is absolutely no degree of chance in poker. Nobody can help it if their pocket rockets are defeated by a lucky flush draw on the river. Yet, why is it that every single time you watch a final table at the WSOP you see the same faces every single time. Are players like Doyle Brunson just lucky for decades on end?
This periodical carries the opinion that poker is a game that requires an immense amount of skill and that it generally takes years to gain a degree of mastery over it. Strategizing, reading players actions and learning how to calculate your own odds as the cards start turning over in order to guess what your opponent has certainly has nothing to do with luck.
Perhaps one day the UK court will accept this fact but until that day come it looks as if Gunshot Poker will either have to remain online or get a gambling license.