There is no doubt there is an element of chance involved in Poker. (Extreme example: If you are dealt a Royal Flush, you cannot lose.)
I am taking the question to mean "Is there ANY skill involved in Poker?".
I have to admit I find the answer to be blindingly obvious.
To give an extreme example, if a player had a sub-optimal strategy of betting 80% of their bank on every hand, no matter what its strength, would be quickly defeated by a moderately skilled competitor who merely folded when their cards were below the median strength.
Nonetheless, it has been studied:
- MICHAEL A. DEDONNO AND DOUGLAS K. DETTERMAN, Poker Is a Skill, GAMING LAW REVIEW, Volume 12, Number 1, 2008, DOI: 10.1089/glr.2008.12105
They looked at a somewhat tighter question - could simple instruction improve the expected outcome of some non-expert players?
finding is that poker is a game of skill. In both
studies, participants who were instructed outperformed those who were not instructed.
Given that poker is a complex skill, it is somewhat surprising that even elementary instructions and limited practice had an effect.
The reason that poker appears to be a game
of luck is that the reliability of any short session is low. In a casino game of poker, about
25 hands are dealt per hour. In Study 2, participants played 720 hands equivalent to about
30 hours of casino play. Study 2 met the psychometric qualification for moderate reliability
of a psychometric task. What this suggests is
that obtaining accurate estimates of poker ability may not be easy. Luck (random factors) disguises the fact that poker is a game of skill.
However, as these studies show, skill is the determining factor in long-term outcome.