Is poker luck or skill? The reason poker players don’t pay tax on their earnings in the UK is because the government consider poker as gambling – a game of chance. However, there are people out there that make a living from poker and some of these people make a very good living from this game of ‘luck’. How do they do it?
Poker luck against the skill edge
Yes, poker is a game with a huge of element of luck but as poker is a game where people play against people – human error is involved. It is because of human error that there is a skill factor in poker. Those players who study hard and play for hours and hours and hours become more competent at dealing with situations in the game than those who are less experienced. A good player is able to maximise his skill edge to take the most profit possible.
Use skill factor to rely less on poker luck
Study your game. If you play online, buy poker database software to store your hand histories. Study your hands in hand re-player tools. As you build up a database of thousands of hands you will be able to spot patterns in your play – and in the play of some of your regular opponents. You will be able to fix your leaks and exploit your opponent’s weak spots. Use heads up display software to show your opponents stats on the screen whilst playing.
Get a coach. Pay someone who is better than you to study your game and tell you where you are not playing optimally. A mentor can help show you the path that you need to follow in order to improve.
Poker luck – the long term
Understand that on any given hand, tournament, day, week, month, year, poker luck might not be with you. You can be a good player with a profitable playing style but poker luck can desert you for a long time and you can lose a lot of money. That is why it’s important to have a mentor or fellow good players around you who can study your game. They can tell you whether you are just ‘running bad’ or if, indeed, you are not as good as perhaps you think you are.
That is a question that is impossible to answer. Some players can maximise the skill edge hugely – like Phil Ivey or Tom Dwan – but even they are at the mercy of poker luck with the turn of every card. AA can always get cracked. It might even get beaten five or ten times in a row but – in the long term – it will win more than it loses. Phil and Tom understand this. They can remove emotion for the game and they understand that they just have to keep making mathematically correct decisions for the tide to change and the money to come.
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