Skip to comments.In Poker, Psychologists Place Bets On Skill
Posted on 03/25/2008 10:55:04 AM PDT by blam
In Poker, Psychologists Place Bets On Skill
Is it luck of the draw in poker? No, says Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student from Case Western Reserve University. (Credit: Image courtesy of Case Western Reserve University)
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2008) Is it luck of the draw in poker? No, says Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student from Case Western Reserve University. He suggests putting your bets on skills over luck when playing the card game.
DeDonno's findings from two poker-related studies with college students have implications for the gaming industry, and possibly even legal cases that challenge the theory of luck over skills. According to DeDonno, the person who takes home the winnings is likely to pay higher taxes when money is considered earned by luck.
His article, "Poker is a Skill," written with Douglas Detterman, Case Western Reserve psychologist, caught the attention of the journal, Gaming Law Review, which has been examining this luck-skill debate and recently published psychologists' findings.
"This article provides empirical evidence that it is skill and not luck," concluded DeDonno from his two studies.
In the first study, DeDonno had 41 college students play eight games, totaling 200 hands, of Turbo Texas Hold'em, a computerized simulation of 10-player Hold'em poker. The game consists of being dealt two cards in the first round. The player must decide whether to play or quit based on the hand. If the person decides to play, then three cards are dealt for the community pot. Again, the player has to decide whether to play or stop. The player must also consider the betting patterns of the other players in making a decision in moving to the next round. If continuing, then the player sees another card and has to decide again to bet or lay down the cards. This is repeated until there are five cards on the table.
Overall most of the students had little experience playing poker, said DeDonno.
Half of the students in the first group were given charts that ranked the two-card combinations from best to the worst and also learned that professional poker players typically play about 15 percent of the hands dealt them. The other group was given background on the history of poker with no strategies.
He found that students given some strategies to make decisions did better than those without the strategies.
When starting the study, almost two-thirds of the students (64 percent) felt that winning at poker was 50 percent luck.
"If it had been pure luck in winning, then the strategies would not have made a difference for the two groups," said DeDonno.
To statistically verify the results from the first study, he conducted a second study, but had students play 720 hands. Again the group was divided into those provided with strategies and those with just a history of playing poker. While all students improved their playing with practice over the large number of hands, the group given strategies continued to do better than those without the added information.
He also found that students reduced the average number of hands played at the beginning (27) to 15 hands after given strategies, which improved their games and validated that "fewer hands does result in improved performance."
DeDonno's research evolved from his interest in playing poker. He wanted to determine if there was a correlation between intelligence and the ability to play the game. But the focus shifted to the luck-skill issue.
According to DeDonno, using poker strategies has some real life applications in such areas as investments and buying a home where partial information is available. He also discovered that the poker simulation has applications in psychological testing for decision making and risk taking.
But in DeDonno's final analysis, skill wins out in playing poker.
Adapted from materials provided by Case Western Reserve University.
Jeez, ya think?
“He found that students given some strategies to make decisions did better than those without the strategies.”
How can I say “DUH” louder on-line?
Whatever this study cost, I bet you’d find out the same thing for less money sitting at a low-limit poker table.
And we spent taxpayer funding to learn this? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper for him to go to Las Vegas and get his clock cleaned by some pros and skilled amateurs and not have to waste the time and money of a Federally Funded University?
Or, he could have just read a poker book to find this out and taken their word for it since most professional players have played over 1,000,000 hands of Texas Hold ‘Em and not just 100 or 720.
Heck, I don’t even look at my cards. I just sit on what I’m dealt, throw some chips in the pot and trust to luck!
Saturday night, my house, don't forget your wallet.
I believe he was making a point about winnings being taxed more based on the game being considered luck. Like Keno
“According to DeDonno, the person who takes home the winnings is likely to pay higher taxes when money is considered earned by luck.”
Tell that to the jackasses in Congress.
Wow - just wow. Somebody sponsored research to see if poker is a game of skill?? And then some news organization thought that the conclusion merited an article?? Oh man! Hope the sponsor and reporter next report to an online table where I’m playing.
Sure, a monkey could be a top poker pro over a short period of a few hands. But over time, the monkey will lose over and over and over.
Over the long run, skill counts more than luck.
Thanks goes out to Tijeras_Slim for the Heads-up.
[Saturday night, my house, don’t forget your wallet.]
LOL! You beat me to it.
Pairs, paint and position.
There are few things that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker. The upper class knows very little about it. Now and then you find ambassadors who have sort of a general knowledge of the game, but the ignorance of the people is fearful. Why, I have known clergymen, good men, kind-hearted, liberal, sincere, and all that, who did not know the meaning of a “flush.” It is enough to make one ashamed of one’s species.
- quoted in A Bibliography of Mark Twain, Merle Johnson
For me, playing poker is not really gambling. It was paying for lessons. ;~((
I resemble that remark.
When I play, which is not frequent and for low blinds only, some of the players do not know the meaning of a J-8 unsuited, apparently.
Which makes Jamie Gold the exception and not the rule.
LOL, true. When a tournament has thousands and thousands of people in it, there's no doubt you need a huge amount of luck to go along with some solid skills in order to win the whole shebang, even at two hours per level.
Poker might be a game of skill but psychology is not a science by any stretch of the imagination.
You can never go wrong with me, when you quote Mark Twain. Ambrose Bierce as well, is always a worthy quote.
I have watched the “World Series of Poker” on occasion and am amazed at how often Daniel Negreanu, correctly guesses the cards in an opponents hand by the way they bet after being dealt only two cards.
OTOH, the best poker player in a room isn’t always the one who walks away with the winnings at the end of the night. They need a little luck, too - or to put it another way, they need to play the statistical probabilities and not come out on the wrong end of them too often, which does sometimes happen.
Gold was also skirting the rules as well-—doing things like exposing hole cards while a hand was in progress, talking about what he had while a player was making a decision, he’s very lucky another player didn’t call him out on any of his antics or else he probably isn’t a multi-millionaire right now.
His performances on NBC’s late night show “Poker After Dark” exposes just how mediocre of a no limit player Gold really is.
It is in no way a violation of the rules to tell your opponent what you have.
I think it was somebody else making that statment....
“Exposing of a hole card is a possible violation of the rules. A player could call the floor over for a ruling and request the players hand be declared dead.”
ACCIDENTLY exposing a hole card is not a violation of the rules. The card that is exposed to one player, is exposed (shown) to all the players, and the hand continues.
“It is in no way a violation of the rules to tell your opponent what you have.”
It is considered bad poker etiquette to discuss your hand while the hand is being played. OTOH, it is considered good playing to lie about what you have in your hand while playing. Go figure.
Psycholgist's deductions no better than chance
Correct. It's not a rule violation--although when I was down in Reno for the World Poker Tour events in which I played players were strongly discouraged from doing what Gold was doing in the Main Event of the WSOP last year--but it's more of an annoyance than a rule violation. Thanks for catching that for me.
computer poker and “real” poker are different.. I think. In real poker, you play the other players... in computer poker, you play the cards...
The thing is, “in the long run” can sometimes be a very long time.