Wide coverage in Dutch newspapers like De Volkskrant, De Telegraaf and Spits on the poker skills vs. luck debate has resulted in renewed publicity for the subject in online poker media this week.
The renewed interest was caused by statements by the acclaimed Dutch professor and expert in probablity and statistics, Ben van der Genugten, who has called on the Dutch Supreme Court to reclassify poker as a game of skill, removing the “game of chance” status it has held since 1998.
The professor told the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at his university that a formula he had helped develop clearly showed poker to be a game of skill – more so than other games such as fantasy sports that had been classified as depending more on skill than good fortune. Despite this, poker remained locked in the "game of chance" category.
Professor van de Genugten's formula was co-developed with Professor Peter Borm, a mathematics and game theory specialist, and has been used by the courts, yet the classification of poker as a "game of chance" persists, spurring the academic to call on the Supreme Court to change this.
Professor van de Genugten has been consulted on the application of the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act and has appeared as an expert witness in a number of cases. He has also participated in an experiment broadcast on Dutch TV to determine the skill ratio of Texas Hold'em.
The formula developed by Professors van de Genugten and Borm establishes a skill value or ratio to determine the relationship between chance and skill, and the learning impact of a particular game. The smaller the role of chance, the higher the skill value. The learning effect is the difference in the outcome of a game between an optimum player and a beginner, and the result quantifies skill.
According to the professor, a pure game of chance such as roulette has no learning effect and would have a skill value of 0. A pure game of skill has no chance effect and would have a skill value of 1. Blackjack scores a skill value of 0.049, management games such as fantasy sports score a skill value of 0.3, and poker achieves a skill value of 0.4, closer to that of chess and bridge.