How Much of Poker is Luck

Winning poker involves both luck and skill. Luck can influence outcomes in the short term. Skill, on the other hand, predominates in the long term. Some players say the game is 30% luck and 70% skill, while others believe it is 10% luck and 90% skill. But, the percentage of luck and skill varies because each game has specific circumstances.
How much of poker is luck

Chance vs Skill in Poker

Poker, a game that has captivated millions worldwide, sits at the crossroads of chance and skill. The debate over which element dominates has significant legal and psychological implications. Research has delved into this topic, seeking to unravel the intricate balance between a player’s expertise and the randomness of the cards dealt.

A study by Levitt and Miles, presented in the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined the performance of players in the World Series of Poker. They found that players identified as highly skilled prior to the tournament achieved an average ROI of over 30%, compared to a -15% for others. This suggests that skill plays a significant role in poker outcomes.

Conversely, a quasi-experimental study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies challenged this notion. It controlled the card distribution to test the influence of skill. The results showed that while experts were better at minimizing losses with poor hands, card distribution was the decisive factor for success, indicating that chance cannot be overlooked.

Furthermore, a study on arXiv highlighted the cognitive skills involved in card games like poker. It suggested that cognitive ability could be linked to gaming performance, reinforcing the argument for poker as a skill-based game.

While skill undoubtedly influences poker outcomes, the element of chance inherent in the card distribution plays a pivotal role. The interplay between these factors makes poker a complex game that defies simple categorization as purely skill or chance. The ongoing research reflects the dynamic nature of this debate, with implications for the legality and perception of poker in society.

Luck Influences Poker in the Short-Term

Luck plays a role in poker and impacts the game’s outcomes, allowing you to win a lot of money. However, this does not happen all the time. You must learn the game and practice poker online to improve your skills and reduce the risk of losing. But why does luck influence poker in the short term? The element of luck is involved due to factors such as:

  • Card distribution
  • Community cards
  • Opponents’ cards
  • Bluffing

Card Distribution

Poker involves random card distribution. So, this means you may get a strong hand like a straight or flash. However, there is a possibility that you get a weak hand like a high card. Thus, this luck of the draw can significantly impact poker’s outcome.

Community Cards

All players share community cards, particularly in games like Omaha and Texas Hold’em. These cards are dealt randomly, which means there is an element of luck that can turn a losing hand into a winning hand.

Opponent’s Cards

Your opponent has a higher chance or luck of winning the game if they get the strong cards. The reason is that you can’t control the type of cards your opponent gets. So, this part makes poker a luck-based game.


How much of poker is luck

Sometimes, players bluff about a strong hand, leading to a lucrative win. But in reality, they don’t have a strong hand. Most players believe that bluffing in poker is a strategy and not luck. It is because a bluff depends on how your opponent observes or understands your playing style.

But bluffing has some element of luck. For example, you play Texas Hold’em. You are dealt a 7 of Diamonds and 2 of hearts. Although these are the weakest starting hands in poker, you start bluffing by making a large bet. You just want to scare off your opponents. And here is where the luck element comes in!

First of all, your opponent has observed that you rarely bluff. But you do something you have never done before and start bluffing. So, your opponent will consider your large bet as if you have a strong hand. Therefore, they will decide to fold –this is where your opponent’s perception has made you lucky.

Why Isn’t Poker Gambling

Players usually consider poker gambling because you wager money on an unpredictable outcome. On the other hand, most players say it is a game of skill for numerous reasons:

  • Players can influence the outcome of poker
  • Poker is played against other players, not against the house

How Players Can Influence Poker Outcomes

Slots and roulette are games of pure chance and luck. On the other hand, poker involves a custom strategy to influence the game’s outcome. Texas Hold ’em is a widely played form of poker played casinos.

Different Card Combos in Texas Hold ’em

In Texas Hold’em poker, there are a variety of different card combinations. Here’s a list of them from highest to lowest:

  • Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit.
  • Straight Flush: the same suit has 5 consecutive cards.
  • Four of a kind: 4 cards have the same rank.
  • Full House: 3 cards belong to one rank and 2 are of another rank.
  • Flush: 5 cards are not in sequence but they are of the same suit.
  • Straight: 5 consecutive cards, not of the same suit.
  • Three of a Kind: 3 cards of the same rank.
  • One Pair: 2 cards of the same rank.
  • Two Pair: 2 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank.

The probability of getting these hands are as follows:

  • High card: 17.41% of the time.
  • Pair: 43.8% of the time.
  • Two Pairs: 23.4% of the time.
  • Three of a kind: 4.8% of the time.
  • Straight: 4.6% of the time.
  • Flush: 3% of the time.
  • Full House: 2.5% of the time.
  • Four of a Kind: 0.1% of the time.

There are 16 possible combinations of AK and 6 possible combinations of a pocket pair like JJ.

Let’s say you are playing Texas Hold ’em. You are dealt two cards, and you see you got 2 of Hearts and 7 of Clubs. These are weak cards; some players consider them the worst starting hand in this game. If poker were entirely a game of chance, you would have to rely on luck to win with this hand. But it is a game of skill. Here is why:

Your Most Probable Decisions

Poker is a highly strategic game that requires skill. So, what would you have done then? If you were a professional poker player, you would make one of the following decisions:

  • You decide to minimize your losses by folding your hand right away
  • You choose to see the next three community cards to improve your hand (if the cards do not cost too much)

Your Possible Strategies

You try to play aggressively to beat your opponents when you have a weak hand. On the other hand, you decide to play conservatively. In that case, your strategy is folding bad hands and playing with strong cards.

Poker is Played Against Other Players, Not Against the House

How much of poker is luck

Skill would still be important even if you played poker against the house. And this is particularly true for games like Casino Hold ’em and Three Card Poker. For example, you are playing Casino Hold ’em. In this game, you get 2 cards. You also see 3 more cards that everyone can use.

So, this is where you decide whether the cards are good and whether you should continue playing. You must put in more chips if you want to keep playing. But again, playing poker against your friends differs from playing in online MGA Casinos. You can’t pretend to have good cards because it is an online casino.

Likewise, you can’t trick a land-based casino by bluffing that you have good cards. Another reason is that the casino doesn’t care about your cards. It just follows the game’s rules.

Final Words About Poker is Luck

Well, poker is both luck and skill. Sometimes, you need to be lucky to win the game. Other times, you have to play smart by keeping a keen eye on the game, using strategies, and improvising with calculated measures. I believe poker is more of a skill-based game than luck.


Written By

Qazi Raza

My name is Qazi Raza. I work as an editor at We focus on telling Swedish casino players about the best-unlicensed gaming websites. I know a lot about how online casinos work. I can tell you which websites are safe and which ones will pay out your winnings. I also share tips to help you make the best betting decisions. My goal is to guide Swedish players to great casinos outside the licensed system. I want our users to have fun gaming experiences.