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Duplicate Poker Looks to Change the Industry

Creator Claims New Form Will Erase All Questions of Legality

There has been quite a bit of press lately regarding whether or not poker qualifies as a game of skill and is thus exempt from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Most readers at would respond, "Of course it's a game of skill." Others, like BusinessWire, have written: "Nothing could be further from being correct. Whilst nobody could ever dispute that Poker doesn't involve a great deal of skill, the simple fact that cards are drawn randomly from a deck precludes this fact, and defines the game as one of chance."

Regardless of what becomes the legally accepted truth on the matter, retired detective Randy Peterson thinks he has an undisputable answer. Peterson invented a version of poker that takes away much of the chance involved, theoretically making the game irrefutably skill-based and rendering the UIGEA irrelevant with regards to it. He calls the game "duplicate poker."

Read on to find out what duplicate poker is and where you can try it, and check out our interview with Peterson at the bottom.

What is Duplicate Poker?

The Basics

For the uninitiated, the game must be played with multiple tables and each table is dealt the same hole and community cards. This being the case, a player can only play if another player is sitting in the corresponding seat on one of the other tables. For instance, if you are in seat No. 1, a player must be seated in seat No. 1 at one of the other tables for you to receive cards.

The reason for this is that you are dealt the exact same holecards as your same-seat competitors and are technically playing against them. Each player has "total chips," which serve to score the player, and "hand chips," which are refilled for each hand. Whichever seat No. 1 player ends with the most "hand chips" in a given hand earns chips toward his total chips. Thus, a player can technically still win chips in a hand he lost at his table simply by losing the fewest chips compared to his same-seat competitors at other tables.

Team Play

The game can be played in a team format in which, for example, six teams of six members apiece sit at six tables. Each team has one player sitting at each table in different positions. These positions are organized so the six different sets of holecards are dealt to one member of each team (for example, if one team's player has pocket aces, each team will have a player that holds aces in the same position). The positions are also organized such that each team has positional advantage on each other team at least once.

This style of play allows for head-to-head competitions between teams of professional poker players (for instance, Team FullTilt versus UltimateBet's sponsored pros) or even rival colleges or companies.


The game was inspired by duplicate bridge, which follows the same basic foundational ideas. The poker variation looks to put skill into the forefront of the game by severely reducing the effects of chance. The game relies more heavily on skill because a player's performance is compared only to opponents in the exact same position with the exact same cards. It truly becomes a situation in which a player is playing the other players, not the cards in his hand.

Where Can You Try It?

The game is still in its infancy regarding online exposure, and that being the case, there is limited availability to try it out online. E-PokerUSA (not affiliated with Peterson) has offered a form of duplicate poker since 2004 and gives players a chance to try the poker variant in both cash game and tournament-style formats. The site offers freeroll tournaments and play money cash games to get players through the growing pains of learning the new style. The site is currently offering free satellites to the e-PokerUSA $10,000 Guaranteed Duplicate Texas Hold'em Tournament at Cherokee Casino Resort in February 2007. Click here to try it out.

Who is Randy Peterson?

Peterson, a 53-year-old ex-police detective and a judicially recognized gaming expert, created the game in 2001. He is currently serving as an independent director for CYOP Systems International and has since February 2002. Peterson helps the company with new product launches and in establishing partnerships and commercial opportunities.

Peterson is also credited as inventing a basis for skill-based versions of many games that require a significant degree of luck, including bingo. In fact, he acted as a member of the board for from April 2001 to March 2002.

An Interview with Randy Peterson What inspired you to create duplicate poker?

Randy Peterson: There're lots of people that have tried to make (chance) games into skill games that are very sterile, and that wasn't the case with this. What was important to me when I conceptualized this was that you don't change the game, all you do is change how it's played. There's no new learning curve here. Hold'em is played like hold'em. But (in normal hold'em) if you play a ring game or a tournament, it's a different game. Although the game's the same, it's a different strategy. Duplicate poker is no different.

(Duplicate poker) doesn't remove all elements of chance, but what it does is it removes the biggest element: the random nature of the deal. For instance, when four people go out and play golf, the only common feature is the fact that they're all playing on the same hole, but one person hits his ball into the rough, one hits it down the fairway…etc.

CP: How do you think duplicate poker fits into the industry in its current state?

RP: I believe, right now, that poker is kind of stalled. There's a lot of interest in poker, but it won't change much because of the limitations that are built into it. I don't expect that duplicate poker will ever replace poker. I don't think it should. But in a team tournament format, I think it has everything that can make the game even better. For the legality issues, the ability to continue playing online, even if it's just a qualifier for, like, the World Series of Poker, (players, sites, and land-based casinos) can still (legally) utilize online qualification in a skill format and then play conventionally (during the series).

[Editor's note: Online poker is still legal for U.S. players. Read more about the legal issues from Card Player's resident legal expert, Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, by clicking here.]

CP: While many legal experts and poker sites disagree, some politicians argue that poker is not a skill-based game and is thus illegal to play in the U.S. Am I to understand that duplicate poker renders this argument moot?

RP: Dr. I. Nelson Rose (one of the world's leading authorities on gambling law) did an examination of (duplicate poker). I was the provincial gaming expert in British Columbia before I retired, so I already knew what he was going to say. I knew what had to happen for the game to be legal. Independently, I had Dr. Nelson Rose look at it and he concurred that it's a game of skill.

CP: You apply your methodologies to other games that involve chance to make them more heavily rely on skill. For instance, you'd previously licensed a version of skill bingo to How does a game like bingo involve skill?

RP: I'm not a big bingo player, but I had been sitting in this bingo parlor. I was having trouble keeping up with one card and this little old girl next to me, she's playing 15 cards and she's leaning over and daubing mine at the same time. You know what? That's a skill set.

CP: You have some approved and pending patents on the idea of duplicate poker and the methodologies of making skill-based variants of chance games that were filed in 2001. (Click here to view those patents.) E-PokerUSA is currently offering a variant of duplicate poker on their site. (Click here to find out more.) I know that you two aren't directly affiliated, and they say they have patents for a different implementation of duplicate poker that does not conflict with your patents. In your opinion, do you and e-PokerUSA have any kind of conflict?

RP: I would say no. We were negotiating over terms. They were interested in purchasing the patents. Obviously, what they do is exactly the same as what my patents are, and what the applications are, but two (of my patents) haven't been issued.

In all honestly, the game that they're presenting right now on the website, and what they plan to present in the land-based (version), is exactly what was conceptualized in skill poker, which I hold the patent for. They were interested in purchasing the patent; I'm trying to be reasonable with them.

(E-PokerUSA and I) have been in discussions and who knows where that discussion will go? If somebody was to approach me to purchase the patents or license them outright, then yes, I am looking to actively market. (E-PokerUSA) don't have any rights to my patents. I have made an offer to them … but I can't wait for them forever.

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Tags: poker law


over 15 years ago

I tried duplicate poker, and I think it is actually more random. Instead of being able to adjust your game to the opponents at your table, you have to adjust to players that you can't even see playing against players that you can't even see.

For instance, if you are at a table where one player is a complete maniac, then you will have to fold some good hands. An opponent at a more rational table has the opportunity to see more hands and thus give you a lot of negative equity.

I'm not sure I'd even classify duplicate "poker" as poker. Poker is about outfoxing the player at your table. This a completely different game.


over 15 years ago

Yes poker is a skill game but live poker not INTERNET POKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I REPEAT not INTERNET POKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its a crap shootNOT MUCH SKILL INVOLVED AT ALL PLAYERS CALL EVERY RAISE EVERY BLUFF THE HEART AND SOUL OF POKER WHICH TAKES THE SKILL OUT OF IT AND BRCOMES A SHOWDOWN TO THE RIVER YOU BETTER HAVE 1000X THE BIG BLIND FOR A BANKROLL OR BE VERY LUCKY JUST ask mike matasow is a great cash game player live and tournament player live but he could tell you horror stories about online poker if he was not being paid by FULLTILT the site that lets pros play cash cames against novice players so let online be held in our country by our casinos and regulated and taxed by us where the american people would both benefit and still be able to play from there homes or where ever they want and evertbody will be happy this maybe can happen now that the dems control both the house and senate