Would Anyone Play Poker If There Was No Luck Involved?December 24, 2013 3:00 pm
The question of how much luck exists in poker has plagued the game since its very inception, but it is generally agreed that although luck plays a significant part in the short-term, in the long run skilled poker players are able to overcome their “war with luck” and profit from the game.
Nevertheless, the huge influence luck exerts on a player’s fortunes in the short-term was highlighted by 13 times WSOP winner Phil Hellmuth, who famously said; “If it weren’t for luck, I’d win every tournament.”
Despite his protestations, however, even Hellmuth recognizes that if luck played a lesser role, then the weaker players would soon go broke and lose interest in the game as their winning sessions became too infrequent and far apart. Equally, if luck played a bigger role it would reduce the chances of a skilled player ever becoming a long-term consistent winner and so diminish any motivation for them to become good at the game.
Therefore, it was interesting to read that Californian software designer and entrepreneur Arthur M. Pfeiffer, 79, has invented a game called “Texas Block ‘Em” that apparently removes luck from the game by allowing players to choose their own hole cards after the flop, instead of being forced to play the random hole cards which are usually dealt to them. In so doing, he may also be able to by-pass online gambling statutes currently in place in the US, and as Pfeiffer explains:
“Since my version of poker is 100 percent skill and involves no luck, it’s not gambling and therefore is legal..In regular poker, each player relies heavily on the fixed laws of mathematics to calculate the probability that the cards dealt will give him a winning hand. In Texas Block ’Em, each player relies heavily on his sense of human psychology in reading opponents to determine the probability that he can pick the right cards for a winning hand.”
Whether or not a variations of poker claiming “no luck involved” will appeal to a mass audience is uncertain, especially as less skilled players are likely to find even less ways of winning and so Texas Block ‘Em may instead eventually be consigned to occupying a smaller niche category of skill-based games. All the same, perhaps judgment should be reserved until after next year when the new game is expected to be rolled out.