March 27, 2009 (PAP Newswire) – In its efforts to help prove
that poker — and more specifically, the game of Texas Hold ‘Em — is a
game of skill and not chance, and thereby removing it from the UIGEA’s legal jurisdiction, leading online poker site PokerStars.com has recruited a prominent software consultant to conduct an official study on the topic.  

Cigital, a software security and quality services firm, today released its findings, entitled “Statistical Analysis of Texas Hold ‘Em”.

“This
study concludes that the outcomes of 103 million observed games of
Texas Hold ‘Em Poker were determined by skill more often than by
chance, and by a significant margin,” states a summary of the report on
Cigital’s home page.

“We look at two aspects of Texas Hold ‘Em
that are clearly skill and chance factors,” the summary explains. “The
decision to stay in the game until the end or to fold at an earlier
point is strictly a matter of skill — weighing the costs and risks and
potential benefits of staying in versus cutting losses and folding. The
two cards each player is dealt as his ‘hole’ cards and the ‘board’ (the
five community cards shared by all players) combine to make a 5-card
hand, and the strength of that hand is strictly governed by chance.”

The
summary goes on to list the frequency of poker’s final “showdown”
element as “a measure of how often chance is allowed to shape the
outcome of the game.” Over at the Wall Street Journal’s blogs page, Cigital’s technical manager, Paco Hope,
is quoted as saying that the rarity of “showdowns” shows that poker is
based on skill more than chance. “Most people think, you get your
cards, and the best hand wins,” Hope was quoted in the article.
“Whether or not you go to a showdown is determined by the decisions you
make, which are determined entirely by your skill.”

The Wall
Street Journal coverage notes that the study isn’t likely to convince
skeptics who refuse to acknowledge poker’s reliance on skill over
chance. “For one thing, players’ decisions are determined by the cards
they draw, which is entirely a matter of luck,” the article states.
“Also, there’s no way to know that PokerStars poker hands are
representative of all poker hands.”

So, although it’s not likely
to change the minds of any skeptics, the study is a valuable addition
to the body of work that’s currently being used to re-classify poker in
many states across the U.S.

Cigital’s study can be downloaded here. Click here to read the Wall Street Journal coverage.