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The Poker Paradox

by Matt Matros |  Published: Nov 27, 2013


It’s hard to win at poker. Brutally hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that approximately 75 percent of poker players lose (some studies say it’s even higher). Last year, the federal government argued in court that because so few players win, skill cannot possibly predominate over luck in our game. Thankfully, Judge Weinstein rejected this absurd argument. He understood that just because it’s hard to win at poker, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. (Sadly, Weinstein’s verdict was set aside a few months ago by a higher court, but that’s an article for another time.) The interesting question is not whether poker is a game of skill (of course it is), but why it’s so difficult to win. Let’s set aside the most obvious reason players lose — the rake. I’ve seen data that says at least two-thirds of players would lose even if there wasn’t any rake. This certainly makes sense ...

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