Select Page

Poker: A Game of Skill or a Game of Luck? Part XIII
So, we have established before that poker is a game of skill, and that it would take quite some skill in order to be consistently successful at poker. Anyone who has ever grinded knows this. There is a reason why every final table in recent memory has a recurring name from somewhere. Either they have been extremely lucky on multiple occasions or there is something else going on.

The incredible part is that yours truly has foretelling powers. I foretold that this would happen, and why it would happen. You can read more if you take a read into our friendly community, located here. The wiretapping act is an excellent example. And sadly, so is our beloved poker.

The issue at hand is once again if what we know for certain is actually true. Is poker actually a game of skill, making it legal, or a game of chance, making it illegal?

In Pennsylvania, they have recently made poker and other table games legal in all casinos . But, prior to this, Allan Richard Campbell and his wife Caro, both coming from McDonald, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, would host poker games in their garage for a long time. Both of them received sentences from U.S. District Judge David Cercone on the basis of running an illegal sports betting and lottery-style gambling ring. Good thing we are not in the prohibition era or they would have slammed them on alcohol charges too. As punishment, Mr. Campbell received a sentence of 17 months (despite the best efforts of the prosecution who wanted a sentence of no less than two years) in federal prison. Mr. Campbell is 72 years old. Mrs. Campbell, on her own part, received two years probation. Yup, they brought down the banhammer alright.

Mr. Campbell pled guilty to several conspiracy charges, including conspiracy to engage in illegal gambling, money laundering, falsification of income tax documents (a favorite of many a prosecutor) and illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon. Next to his 17 months in prison, the US government seized a ton of his assets, including $250,000 in cash, 8 vehicles, and upwards of 5 figures in savings bonds.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Campbell had a record of prior convictions for running illegal gambling operations, which seems to be the reason that the prosecutors would seek such tough sentences for the two oldies.

But there is more. Recently, an appeals court would overturn the ruling, declaring that poker is a game of skill. In a game of skill, even if you are wagering with money, it is not considered gambling because it’s a part of the game. A three panel judge voted, and it came down to a 2 to 1 decision that Columbia/Montour County Judge Thomas James Jr. erred when he said that poker, as we know it, is not a game of chance because the outcome of the game depends more upon the skill of the players involved rather than chance. This was huge. If there was no gambling involved it would be impossible to be running gambling rings, now would it?

But luck had it that this group of judges saw sense, and these old timers would walk.

But you just know a cog will be thrown into that smooth moving machinery, the only question is when. And it happened, just two days after Judge Thomas James Jr. showed a bit of knowledge in the matter. Judge Kate Ford Elliott and Senior Judge Robert Freedberg (Senior Judge Robert Colville dissented) basically said that poker, as we know it, is a game of chance. They cited the opinions of other courts, in the ultimate case of the blind leading the deaf and the deaf leading the mute, who ruled that while there is some skill involved, poker is and will always remain a game of chance. Someone should send an SMS to Phil Ivey telling him that, and also message his opponents that they should not fear his skill, but only his massive luckbox.

So now, the Campbell couple is back at square one. Stay tuned and we will bring you more (rather opinionated, but correct AND accurate!) information on the matter. Remember folks: poker is unique in that it combines luck and skill. The only thing is that luck, when it manifests itself, does make its presence felt with the force of an earthquake, while skill is always present in the game but much more subdued. We have all seen hole-in-ones in golf, but we cannot ever say that someone who scores a hole in one does so because he is just that skilled, right? Or hitting for the cycle in baseball? Luck is always involved in everything, but those with skill will always prevail. That is reality.