I just read a NY Times article which claims that a US Judge ruled that poker is a game of skill and not one of chance.

In a ruling that goes to the heart of what it means to play poker, Judge Jack B. Weinstein tossed out the conviction and vacated the indictment of the man who ran that gambling business. The judge’s reason: poker is more a game of skill than a game of chance, so game operators should not be prosecuted under the federal law the prohibits running an illegal gambling business.

Did this happen?

  • 1
    Note this is a different question to "Is Poker a Game of Skill?"
    – Kenshin
    Dec 22 '12 at 11:08
  • Chris, I've changed your question to reflect this. You were asking for the same evidence twice.
    – Sklivvz
    Dec 22 '12 at 12:25
  • 3
    strictly speaking, the judge only ruled that the game of poker is both a game of skill and chance but that it is not "chancy enough" to qualify as a felony under federal gambling laws.
    – KutuluMike
    Dec 25 '12 at 14:54


Judge Jack B. Weinstein concluded that, under US Law:

Poker is Predominated By Skill Rather than Chance

In his ruling, in United States of America against Lawrence Dicristina, he explains the evidence from the prosecution and defendant, who both agreed that poker has a significant amount of skill and a significant amount of chance. They agreed that the top players would eventually tend to come out ahead.

They differed as to how many would be ahead (e.g. if you were slightly better than another player, you may eventually do better than them, but still lose out due to the "rake").

They differed as to how long it would take to get ahead, and how long should be considered relevant. (Should the fact that a single hand is predominantly chance be considered, or the fact that after several dozens of hours played, the game is predominantly skill?)

The judge quotes precedence that

[t]he rule of lenity requires ambiguous criminal laws to be interpreted in favor of the defendants subjected to them.

He draws on that rule of lenity to determine that this (rather meaningless, in my opinion) question should be decided in the defendant's favour.

Both the defendant’s and the government’s interpretations of the statute are plausible. It is unclear from the text and legislative history of the IGBA whether every state gambling offense would permit a federal conviction. See Part VI, infra. It is equally uncertain whether, in enacting the statute, Congress foresaw that poker businesses would be prosecutable under it. See Part VII, infra.
In light of these ambiguities, the rule of lenity requires that the defendant’s interpretation be adopted, and his conviction be dismissed. His acts did not constitute a federal crime.

  • History repeats itself, rather predictably in this case: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backgammon#Legality
    – Fizz
    Nov 22 '17 at 12:49
  • @Fizz: Without reading further than the Wikipedia page, it is about equally as meaningless, and the "expert" witness's statement is pretty much gibberish.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 22 '17 at 12:55
  • A better question to ask is how much skill is involved. An answer wrt Poker: nber.org/papers/w17023 (Also I agree that Magriel didn't understand what game theory is about, at least didn't in that quote.)
    – Fizz
    Nov 22 '17 at 12:55

The supreme court of Sweden decided that poker (texas holdem) is a game of both skill and chance.

  • The article headline and subtitle are:

    HD: Både tur och skicklighet i poker

    Pokerspelet texas holdem handlar både om tur och skicklighet, slår Högsta Domstolen (HD) fast i en ovanlig dom.

  • Which in English via Google translate:

    HD: Both luck and skill in poker

    Poker game texas holdem matter of both luck and skill, hitting the Supreme Court (HD) caught in an unusual sentence.

The court decided that while the game is a game mostly of chance in a tournament form it is a game of skill.

  • 2
    This doesn't answer the question though. Last I checked, despite most American's dismal knowledge of geography, Sweden is not part of the US. ;) Feb 13 '15 at 3:36

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