Gambling – Luck or Skill?

Posted by: | 30th July 2016

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Gambling is undoubtedly only a matter of fortune, if you only apply your bets at random or just for fun. Nonetheless, many types of wager and gambling games can offer considerably improved rates of return when player skill is employed. Rather than relying on lady luck, many gamblers are able to outperform the general public because of the skills they have honed. Sometimes it comes down to understanding just how a game works and other times knowing when the most advantageous time might be to place a bet.

Let’s look at simple example. In a game of pontoon or blackjack a player must try to score 21 or fewer, but not go over. If they hold a score of twenty in their current hand, then opting for another card from the dealer is more likely to produce a result over 21 than not, given that most cards score two or more. Therefore, skill – or good player judgement – would dictate sticking on the current hand’s score. Of course, an ace might be the next card, but statistically speaking it is unlikely to be. Therefore, a player enhances their chances of winning a hand due to the skill they have playing it.

When betting at a roulette table, as another example, players might just throw their chips down at random. This might yield great results, but sticking to a strategy, such as doubling losing bets until a winning result is generated may well be more favourable, given the limitation in place of the house advantage. Many horse racing gamblers study statistical form and factor in the ground conditions in order to maximise their chances of beating the odds and, in many ways, casino gambling is not much different.

Moreover, a popular game like poker requires a great deal of player skill to master. Although, like many gambling games, the outcome relies on a series of random events – in this case the fall of a deck of cards – poker has another significant element, that of human psychology. In poker, the best players increase their chances of winning by skilfully ‘reading’ their opponents betting strategies and so-called tells. A tell is a subconscious signal to other players that might reveal when they are bluffing, for instance. Although many games also rely on a sound understanding of psychological traits for players to win, few offer the same betting opportunities for skillful gamblers that poker does, which is why it is such a hit in casinos all over the world.