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RESEARCH INTO SKILL VS. CHANCE POKER DEBATE CONTINUES

The Poker Players Alliance has cautioned against complacency in the important skill vs. chance debate on poker - a critical element in working toward the legalisation of poker as a game of skill rather than chance, therefore placing it beyond the reach of anti-gambling laws.
 
The caution comes in the wake of favourable results from courts in Pennsylvania, Colorado and South Carolina that have all ruled this year that poker is a game of skill.
 
Nevertheless, practical research and findings based on fact remain important for the game, and this week ABC News discussed recent findings in an article at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=7270357&page=1.

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Darse Billings, a former poker pro who co-founded the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada has no doubts that it is skill and not chance that predominates in the game. "I depended solely on that skill for my food and rent," he told ABC News.
 
The aticle covers previous research efforts aimed at quantifying the relationship between skill and chance by building theoretical models or playing software bots against each other.
 
Ingo Fiedler and Jan-Philipp Rock at the University of Hamburg's Institute of Law and Economics in Germany argue that these methods fail to reflect real games, and this may explain why some courts and lawmakers have yet to be swayed by them.
 
Over three months, the pair recorded the outcomes of 55 000 online players playing millions of hands of poker's most popular variant, "no-limit Texas hold 'em", choosing two factors to define the threshold between skill and chance.
 
Firstly, they measured how much each player's winnings and losses fluctuated: the higher this variance, the greater the role of chance. Secondly, they measured the average value of a player's winnings or losses: highly skilled or terrible players would do noticeably better or worse than would be expected by chance alone.
 
Based on these factors, they found that the threshold at which the effects of skill start to dominate over chance is typically about 1 000 hands, equivalent to about 33 hours of playing in person or 13 hours online, where the rate of play is faster.
 
They suggest that their results show that skill dominates, because most players easily play this many hands in a lifetime, and poker is therefore more a game of skill.
 
Sean McCulloch, a computer scientist at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, has a different opinion, claiming that the results may fail to sway a judge or jury.
 
"If you want to use a mathematical argument as the basis for legislation or court decisions, it has to be easy to explain, easy to follow and intuitive," he says.
 
McCulloch used an alternative method to explore skill and chance in poker, also based on real games.
 
Together with Paco Hope of the software consultancy Cigital of Washington DC, he looked at 103 million hands of Texas hold 'em played at the PokerStars online site and calculated how many were won as the result of a "showdown" - in which players win thanks to their cards beating their opponents' cards - versus those that were won because all the other players folded.
 
They argue that the latter hands must be pure skill, because no one shows their cards. Their analysis, released on 27 March 2009, revealed that 76 percent of games did not end in a showdown, suggesting that skill is the dominant factor.
 
John Pappas of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) in Washington DC says both studies are badly needed to help properly define the law. In many US states, judges and juries use a so-called "predominance test" to gauge skill and chance, based on the opinions of expert witnesses.
 
Although courts in Pennsylvania, Colorado and South Carolina have all ruled this year that poker is a game of skill, not all courts do. "It would not be wise for any of us to rest on our laurels," Pappas says. The PPA expects the Cigital study will now be used as evidence to fight court cases.



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NHL Odds: Forsberg Faces Elliott in Nashville - The last time the Nashville Predators played against the Calgary Flames, Calgary had a 4-1 lead five minutes into the second period. Nashville responded with four back-to-back goals, including a hat trick from centreman Filip Forsberg. Both teams went into overtime with five goals, and Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano (12 goals, 22 assists) scored the winning goal.

Sit & Go 2.0 launched online exclusively at Americas Cardroom - Get ready to cheer like a champion before the first flop is even dealt. The much-anticipated Sit & Go 2.0 is now launched online exclusively at Americas Cardroom and Sit & Go players are reaping the benefits of the next evolution of poker.

NBA Odds: Hawks, Wiz in Southeast Showdown - The Washington Wizards (42-27 SU, 36-32-1 ATS) can pretty much secure the Southeast Division title with a win Wednesday night over the Atlanta Hawks (37-32 SU, 31-38 ATS). Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on ESPN; the Wizards lead Atlanta by five games with less than a month remaining before the playoffs.

Mega Moolah progressive jackpot Hit Again - Microgaming’s Mega Moolah progressive jackpot slot has been hit yet again at just over €6.6 million!

NBA Odds: Clippers Try to Slow Down Bucks in LA - Milwaukee Bucks small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin are two of the most talented and versatile forwards in the NBA. The two lead their teams into battle on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

NCAAB Odds: SMU Hosts Tulsa With AAC Title on the Line - There aren’t too many college basketball teams more profitable than the SMU Mustangs (25-4 SU, 18-5-1 ATS). They host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (14-14 SU, 15-12 ATS) this Thursday night, tipping off at 8 PM ET on CBSSN.

NHL Odds: Canadiens Welcome Islanders Tonight - The Montreal Canadiens (32-20-8) welcome the New York Islanders (28-21-10) on Thursday (7:30 PM ET on SNE). After getting their first victory under new head coach Claude Julien, the Canadiens will look to build on that momentum against a red-hot Islanders team.

NHL Odds: Reeling Flyers Seek Relief in Pittsburgh - #nhl The Philadelphia Flyers have been a bit off since the holidays. They’ve won just eight games since the Christmas break, and now they’ve got a tough one coming up this Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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