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Einstein, Reserves, and Poker

by Steve Zolotow |  Published: Jul 13, 2011


A question that often arises in the discussion of poker legalization is whether or not it is a game of skill. Almost any rational person quickly realizes that poker is a game of skill. Since laws and the legal system don’t focus on rationality, justice, or right and wrong, this is irrelevant from a legal perspective. I want to interrupt this discussion briefly to examine physics. Isaac Newton “proved” that physics obeyed certain natural laws. It was mathematically precise. Basically, it was a “game of skill,” and there was no luck involved. Then came Einstein and quantum physics. He realized that when small particles are studied, there is an element of chance. One can’t state what a specific particle will do, but one can assign probabilities to several things it might do. For example, uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.47 billion years. This means that half of the atoms in ...

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