August 25, 2012


No More Bluffing (JAMES McMANUS, 8/25/12, NY Times)

POKER is America's card game, some say its national pastime. It is certainly the game most like the free-market system. It is increasingly viewed as the quintessential American mind sport. Its popularity has always had to do with the pleasures of bluffing, as well as with the fact that money is its language, its leverage, its means of keeping score. It is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our culture, our language, our economy. And soon, it now seems, it will even be legal.

Last Monday, in a case involving a Staten Island poker parlor, a federal judge in Brooklyn, Jack B. Weinstein, ruled that poker is predominantly a game of skill and not a game of chance -- the legal definition of gambling -- and that game operators should not be prosecuted under a federal law that bars running an illegal gambling business. [...]

Judge Weinstein was persuaded by a mountain of statistical evidence, much of it supplied by Randal D. Heeb, an economist and statistician who had analyzed 415 million hands of no-limit hold 'em played online and concluded that a player's skill "had a statistically significant effect on the amount of money won or lost."

The judge quoted Mr. Heeb as saying that "many people make a living playing poker and win consistently over time," whereas "it is impossible to make a living and to win consistently playing casino games such as roulette," where chance predominates. He also emphasized poker's distinguished heritage as a game that presidents, Supreme Court justices and other honorable citizens had played.

Posted by at August 25, 2012 6:13 AM

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