Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In Poker, Psychologists Place Bets On Skill

Date:
March 25, 2008
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
Is it luck of the draw in poker? The answer is 'no', according to new findings from two psychology studies. In the first study, DeDonno had 41 college students play eight games, totaling 200 hands, of Turbo Texas Hold'em, a computerized simulation of 10-player Hold'em poker.

Is it luck of the draw in poker? No, says Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student from Case Western Reserve University.
Credit: Image courtesy of Case Western Reserve University

Is it luck of the draw in poker? No, says Michael DeDonno, a doctoral student from Case Western Reserve University. He suggests putting your bets on skills over luck when playing the card game.

Related Articles


DeDonno's findings from two poker-related studies with college students have implications for the gaming industry, and possibly even legal cases that challenge the theory of luck over skills. According to DeDonno, the person who takes home the winnings is likely to pay higher taxes when money is considered earned by luck.

His article, "Poker is a Skill," written with Douglas Detterman, Case Western Reserve psychologist, caught the attention of the journal, Gaming Law Review, which has been examining this luck-skill debate and recently published psychologists' findings.

"This article provides empirical evidence that it is skill and not luck," concluded DeDonno from his two studies.

In the first study, DeDonno had 41 college students play eight games, totaling 200 hands, of Turbo Texas Hold'em, a computerized simulation of 10-player Hold'em poker. The game consists of being dealt two cards in the first round. The player must decide whether to play or quit based on the hand. If the person decides to play, then three cards are dealt for the community pot. Again, the player has to decide whether to play or stop. The player must also consider the betting patterns of the other players in making a decision in moving to the next round. If continuing, then the player sees another card and has to decide again to bet or lay down the cards. This is repeated until there are five cards on the table.

Overall most of the students had little experience playing poker, said DeDonno.

Half of the students in the first group were given charts that ranked the two-card combinations from best to the worst and also learned that professional poker players typically play about 15 percent of the hands dealt them. The other group was given background on the history of poker with no strategies.

He found that students given some strategies to make decisions did better than those without the strategies.

When starting the study, almost two-thirds of the students (64 percent) felt that winning at poker was 50 percent luck.

"If it had been pure luck in winning, then the strategies would not have made a difference for the two groups," said DeDonno.

To statistically verify the results from the first study, he conducted a second study, but had students play 720 hands. Again the group was divided into those provided with strategies and those with just a history of playing poker. While all students improved their playing with practice over the large number of hands, the group given strategies continued to do better than those without the added information.

He also found that students reduced the average number of hands played at the beginning (27) to 15 hands after given strategies, which improved their games and validated that "fewer hands does result in improved performance."

DeDonno's research evolved from his interest in playing poker. He wanted to determine if there was a correlation between intelligence and the ability to play the game. But the focus shifted to the luck-skill issue.

According to DeDonno, using poker strategies has some real life applications in such areas as investments and buying a home where partial information is available. He also discovered that the poker simulation has applications in psychological testing for decision making and risk taking.

But in DeDonno's final analysis, skill wins out in playing poker.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "In Poker, Psychologists Place Bets On Skill." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321125835.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2008, March 25). In Poker, Psychologists Place Bets On Skill. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321125835.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "In Poker, Psychologists Place Bets On Skill." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321125835.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins