Author: Chuck Baird

Being an older man myself, and having played poker for a very long time. Matter of fact, I have probably played as much or more than your average player. And now you are saying… so what?

Ever wonder if there all of the little "idiosyncrasies" that you hear so much about - and so many books have been written on - really exist? Or in fact are all these tells, bluffs, percentages, etc just another way to hide the fact that there is no skill in the game? That it truly is a game of pure luck? (That is guaranteed to start an discussion in many circles!)

I ran a “poker room” for 3 1/2 years recently. (2006 – 2009) So, it’s not that I am bragging here, just saying this is what I have actually observed with actual players in actual situations over a long period of time.

We would typically play from seven to eight in the evening until normally five or six in the morning. (Often as late as eight or nine in the morning!) That my friends, is a lot of hands of poker!

And in that time, (we played three nights a week…) I was privy to observing a heck of a lot of Texas Hold’Em. It was constant play from start up to close, and we provided a dealer to keep the hands rolling along. (That’s the way most players like it, a fixed dealer - not in the game - and they can just keep playing…)

In our “House Rules”, unless you picked up your chips and cashed in, you were in every “Big” and “Small” blind that passed around the table. There were no missing blinds for a smoke break or whatever. If you know the game, it’s just that our players wanted to play, not shoot the bull or watch TV, or have a player outside smoking all the time.

Generally, since we were playing a No Limit Hold’Em cash game, there was also no time limit on decision-making. (A lot of the rules you see on the TV tournaments do no exist in a cash game!) That being said, we would get in an average of 30 – 45 hands per hour.

With that many hands played per hour, there was always something going on. Our players were all over the spectrum when it came to skill, age, financial stability, and personalities.

That being said, seeing that many hands on any given night, I am comfortable I am fairly qualified in offering my opinion of skill versus luck on the game. There were players who had read many of the “Poker Pro” books on how to play. We had a few who were actual dealers from casinos. There were a some who had won real tournaments both locally and in Las Vegas. Then there were the rest of us. Guys and ladies who I will call “normal poker players”.

That being said, the purpose of this blog is to state that I personally do not think there is any skill in poker these days. I just don’t! I have seen the self declared “professionals” get their butts kicked by some kid who has only played for one or two years. Seen older guys who have played all their lives get their heads handed to them on a platter by someone who is a brick shy of a load.

Yes, I have seen a lot. My answer to the question “Is it a game of skill or not?” is this:

If you have a table of nine or ten players and a dealer, skill will not win out over luck, stupidity, and disrespect for money. That’s it in a nutshell. You can play the best game you have ever played, get your fair share of cards, and still lose all your money to some Donkey at the table (and believe me, there will be more than one!) who has more money than he knows what to do with, does not appreciate actual percentages of draws possible, and likes to gamble.

These modern day “Poker Warriors” have seen entirely way too much TV poker and think it’s the way the game is played. They don’t think about anything except taking your money. They don’t understand when they lose. They play hands that any normal person would toss without a second thought. They most certainly do not understand that TV poker is just that, TV POKER! How many times do you see a professional player win these days? ANSWER: “You Don’t!” The hands they show on TV are for “show value” hands. Nobody would play those cards and you shouldn’t either! (Remember I said there would be donkeys at a table of nine or ten players?…… Well there you go!)


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