Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cool Hand Dave, Out on the River

Earlier this week I posted an article on Dave Kelly's court case, who is charged with running unlicensed poker games. The point of contention surrounded whether Texas Hold'em is a game of skill or chance, with the prosecution arguing that merely shuffling the cards makes poker a game of chance.

According to the BBC, the verdict is in, and Dave Kelly has been found guilty. The jury obviously agreed with the prosecution's arguments (or perhaps just didn't understand poker). From the defence lawyer:

"If we accept that a game of chance includes all games of combined chance and skill every game you could possibly think of would fall foul of this particular Act."

So I disagree with the finding of the jury and agree with the defence. Poker is very much akin to chess. No-Limit Texas Hold'em can be played with just two people and matches can be just as mentally gruelling as the best chess match. Chess is regularly played in clubs, up and down the country, where members may have to pay a membership fee to play. It also begins with an element of chance, where players generally randomly assign who will play as white or black. It is generally agreed that being white gives an advantage (although admittedly minor) and this small gamble is very similar to shuffling the cards in poker.

All in all, this is a sorry tale. With all the problems of the world, tax-payers money is being spent on prosecuting a citizen who organises poker games. Nobody forces anybody to play poker, and it is the skill of improving ones abilities which is so much more of an attraction to the game, than the perceived element of gambling.

Bad luck Dave. Maybe you and your club should move to Vegas, where they appreciate good poker players!