Poker 005

Skilled players negatively impact the outcome for less skilled players. A player’s winnings are not only affected by the house rake but also by the skill of other players.
Less skilled players are often better off playing a game of chance than a game of skill.
Gambling games can be divided into two categories: games of chance and games of skill. Winning at poker is dependent on skills relative to the other players. The number of skills involved and the long-term prospects of financial return vary for each type of game. In Hold’em poker, skilled players can make a decent living, but in poker games played against the “house,” such as Caribbean Stud Poker, players cannot beat the house edge, regardless of how skilled they are. Players of games based on skill are more likely to be male and more likely to be younger.
The relationship between skill and problem gambling is particular interesting. Over 4 out of 10 gamblers in treatment list a game of skill as their major area of concern. Problem gamblers often have an inflated sense of their own skill. Are problem gamblers who play games of skill simply unskilled players or some of the “skilled” gamblers in treatment might actually be skilled but not be as skilled as other players?
Poker players in treatment for gambling problems over-emphasize the luck element and under-emphasize the skill element. Successful skilled players (those that do not have a gambling problem), on the other hand, emphasized the skill factor – they see luck as having a minimal role. However, the mixed skills of gamblers playing these games affect the outcome for every player.
Firstly, if all players are equally matched in skill, the outcome is random. Secondly, if highly skilled players are introduced into a game, the less skilled players are more likely to lose. These rules also apply to horse racing, sports betting and stock market investing. In each case, players can only make money if they have better information and strategies than other players do. If the information is shared and the strategies are the same, the outcome is random.
In the context of poker, a definition of skilled play means that players adjust their play to their position in the hands (i.e. Are they first or last to bet?); they gauge the odds of making a particular hand compared to the size of the pot (the “pot odds”); they try and figure out their opponents hands by “tells” and betting patterns, and usually tend to play tight and aggressive, but must occasionally vary their play by bluffing (loose) or checking (passive) in order to avoid giving away their strength.
This illustrates an important rule in poker: skilled poker players are more selective, and therefore, enter fewer pots. They win less often, but are more likely to win the pots that they do enter. Average-skilled players tend to pursue more hands, and therefore, lose more when they do lose.
Books by skilled gamblers stress the importance of understanding the short-term influence of luck in contrast to the long-term influence of skill. This idea is key to both retaining emotional control during bad beats (e.g., losing what should have been a sure win) and keeping weaker players in the game. However, even players with problems do possess some skill. Many players have periods of problem (“tilt”) and non-problematic play.
Are problem gamblers simply players who have a poor level of skill? Do they all suffer from false beliefs about their abilities? When a player from a game of skill reports losing consistently, it does not necessarily indicate a lack of ability, but rather that the player has played against the house edge and the edge of more highly skilled players.
Actually, a person could be reasonably good, and yet, in the long term, still lose money. We might conclude that a problem gambler has a distorted belief about his or her own skill, but the reality may be subtler. Moderately skilled gamblers may be caught in a rather odd net – they might know that they are above average players, and yet, may still lose money in spite of winning more often than not.
Their self-appraisal may be, in fact, reasonably accurate. But they may not realize just how skilled they would have to be to beat the house edge and the edge of other players. However, if they focus instead on how the house rake and better players take their cuts, this may lead to an understanding.
The point is that even skilled play does not guarantee winning in the long run.
Skill was defined in terms of card playing skills (probabilities, pot odds and the ability to apply strategies). In real life, emotional upsets, fatigue and other psychological states also affect the outcome of a game of skill. The ability to read the non-verbal cues of other players while masking their own is also an important factor for skilled players. Emotional influence and factor of self-control is often much more important then well thought-out strategy. Self-reflexion and attitude, goal setting making right decisions under a stress – all mental aspects help to enhance your performance.
Part of the allure of poker and other games of skill is that players feel they can win in the long term. This belief is often illusory, especially if the other players are more skilled. In a game of skill, the less skilled players can be at a greater disadvantage since they are playing against both the house edge (the rake) and the skilled players’ edge. It should be noted that many social players who play for fun rather than money are unlikely to develop gambling problems, even if the odds are stacked against them.