Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The luck of the draw

Luck never gives; it only lends. ~ Swedish Proverb

One of the oldest debates in poker is to what extent are the results based on skill and to what extent luck. Proponents of legalizing online poker claim (rightfully so) that it mostly a skill-based game.

Does it really matter that it's a skill-based game? My feeling is that it should be legal regardless. The government lets you bet on horse racing. You can go to casinos and play poker legally. States not only allow you to buy lottery tickets, but encourage you to do so with ads and other means. After all this, why should the government say you can't play poker online? What's that word? Oh yeah, hypocrisy.

Bridge is even more skill-based than poker, in my opinion. Yet, there's luck in that game, too.

Playing online Sunday night, I held:
10 8 2 2 K Q 10 8 7 2 K 6 3.

After two passes, left-hand opponent opened 1 and partner doubled. RHO passed, and you? I jumped to 3. I would have opened 2 originally, but that shows something else in our big club system.

My partner Kate bid 3, and you? Did you make the lazy 4 bid? I have terrific values for a passed hand, so I tried 4. Why not, it's on the house?

Kate bid 6 and these were the hands (rotated):

As you can see, basically the only thing that can set the slam was Q 4 3 offside. Because this was the case, we went set and scored 2.73% instead of nearly a top. The board was played 56 times and only four pairs bid slam. You can see all the results if you click here.

Even in bridge, considered to be the best card game, there's luck. Later in the same session, we stayed out of slam on this deal:

The A was cashed at trick one and it looked like we'd underbid. When one round of trumps revealed a 4-0 break, 12 tricks could not be made (according to Deep Finesse). You can see all the results for that board here.

1 comment:

  1. You are absolutely right about the hypocrisy thing...if one form of gambling is OK, then what makes another form taboo?

    Frankly, some years back I would have never dreamed that states would be promoting gambling to its citizens via the lotteries, casinos, etc. This is a monumental change in our culture which has really gone unremarked.

    Why haven't the Baptists yelled their heads off? Aha! They, too, want a piece of the pie!

    Hope all is well with you.

    The word verification is "karna," which isn't "karma," but close enough! :-)