Sweden says Texas Hold ‘Em is a game of luck and skill

Every poker player will have taken a look at their cards from time to time and thought they were the worst cards they had ever been dealt. It is easy at times like that to blame lady luck for turning against you and ensuring that you would never win. However, from there, many players will see where their cards can taken them or at least work out how best to minimise any losses they take from them. If you are given a hand that appears to be unlucky, there is no need to go all in and chase the victory with it, it is important to know that there are other battles that can be won. Even with an unlucky first hand, players should know how to play their cards.

How lucky are you?

This would strongly suggest that there is a high skill element to games like Texas Hold ‘Em but the Swedish courts have downplayed the skill element and said that this game is a mixture of skill and chance. The findings stated that in a tournament play played over a long period of the time, the balance between skill and chance rises in favour of skill with chance diminishing. However, they also stated that in short games or cash games, the element of chance is very high and that these games cannot be classified as a game of skill.

These findings are important because their definition determines whether these games are legal or not in Sweden.

Players can only be convicted of a major gambling crime in Sweden if it is found that they were playing games based upon chance as opposed to their own skill. This is why the ruling in this case mattered so much and why so many expert witnesses were hauled in front of the judge to give evidence and their opinions on the matter.

Strong defence witnesses highlighted the need for skill

Some of the defence witnesses included a poker professional who outlined the years of experience and studying that is required to develop the skills required to be a top class poker player. There was also a mathematical expert giving their opinion on how once the cards have been dealt, there is no more element of chance involved in the match. Once the cards have been dealt, everything that happens is down to the players reactions and choices as opposed to being considered to be luck.

Even with these expert witnesses providing strong evidence, the court found that the game’s outcomes was still too heavily reliant on random elements of chance to be viewed as game of pure skill. This finding was extremely disappointing for many Swedish betting firms, who were hoping for a finding that the games were entirely reliant upon skill. This would have allowed them to set up and operate a lot more betting tournaments but the current ruling ensures that no great changes to the Swedish betting industry are likely to happen in the near future.

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