Iowa Law Blog

The Skill of Knowing When to Fold Them

A Federal District Court Judge in Brooklyn ruled that poker is a game of skill, rather than a game of chance.  At issue was whether game operators should be prosecuted under the federal law that prohibits running an illegal gambling business.  Judge Jack Weinstein noted in his ruling that the "most professional poker players earn the same celestial salaries as professional ballplayers," and reviewed statistics which showed that in a sample of 100 million poker hands played, over 70% of those hands were won before cards were turned over.  Instead, he reasoned "[t]he pot went not to the luckiest among them but to the most deft — the player who could guess his opponents’ intentions and disguise his own, make calculated decisions on when to hold and fold, and quickly decide how much to wager." 

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