Written On 4.6.11 By Jennifer Jearu :
Swedish Supreme Court makes a sensible ruling
After months of legal argument and evidence, the Swedish Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling Wednesday, finding that both chance and skill decide the outcome in the poker game Texas Hold’em.
The newspaper The Local.se reports that the judges stressed that the form of the game being played and how long it is played for are key in deciding on the luck vs. skill issue.
Judge Göran Lamberth told reporters: “We have found that the main tournament and its side tournaments were not random chance games, and that skill does come in to it."
However, the court ruled that the freer form of Texas Hold’em cash games are in breach of Swedish gambling laws. In the cash game players can play when they like, bet when they like, and leave the table at any time.
"We find this form to be a game of pure random chance," Lamberth said.
InfoPowa readers will be familiar with the background to the case, which is rooted in the 2007 conviction of four men under Sweden's gambling laws, charged for organising a multi-million kronor tournament in Grebbestad, an event that attracted hundreds of participants and lasted several days.
Two of the men were acquitted on appeal in 2008, while the remaining two had their sentences reduced in part because the appeals court accepted arguments that the tournament involved a game of skill rather than chance.
Expert witnesses were called, and in February testified that skill is critical for succeeding in the game. Tutorials given to the judges by an expert player created mainstream headlines in Europe with the claim that it takes time and experience to become a skilled player.
And a maths expert from Chalmers University gave evidence that the element of chance is limited to the first dealt card.
Despite this extensive range of expert opinion and demonstration, the court found that the outcome of the game is too reliant on random chance to be viewed as a purely skill-based game.
The case has been keenly watched by poker players everywhere, as a definite ‘skill' ruling could have opened up new opportunities for the game and made for a useful international precedent.