International edition
October 25, 2021

The study was carried out by Cigital in conjunction with PokerStars

New statistical study says poker is a game of skill

(US).- The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the poker grassroots advocacy group, has hailed a new study which provides compelling statistical evidence that the outcome of Texas Hold 'Em poker games are predominantly determined by the players’ decisions rather than by chance.


he study was carried out by software security firm Cigital in conjunction with PokerStars, and used data acquired from 103 million hands of poker played online in December 2008. 

According to Cigital’s report entitled Statistical Analysis of Texas Hold ‘Em, more than 75% of the cases saw an outcome determined with no player ever seeing more than his/her own cards and the community cards.

Nearly 25% of the games witnessed a showdown where the cards were revealed to determine the winner, but only half of the showdowns were won by the player who had the best five card hand. The other half of the showdowns were won by someone with an inferior hand because the player with the best hand decided to fold prior to showdown.

Senator Alfonse D’Amato, Chairman of PPA, said: “As a poker player I can tell you that knowing when to hold or fold is not based solely on the cards that are dealt, but a series of decisions based on skill and the actions taken by the other players. This study provides the raw data to back up the compelling arguments made by poker players around the world that it’s skill, not pure luck, that determines the outcome of this game.”

The PPA said that the results of the study would help assist the poker community with ongoing legal challenges that have been launched in an attempt to protect the game from being categorized as gambling. Earlier this year the PPA witnessed a string of legal victories, with judges and juries in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina all determining that poker is predominantly a game of skill, not chance, and should not be classified as gambling under the law.

“The question of whether poker is a game of predominant skill or chance is not about the player’s ego, but the nature and legal protections of the game. In courtrooms across the country, judges and juries are finding that poker is a game of skill not chance like lotteries or slot machines and this study confirms that fact," said Pappas.

PokerStars players were asked to independently submit their hand histories to Cigital, a leading software security and quality consulting firm based in North Virginia, along with an attestation that the hand history was accurate.

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