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Gambling in Poker

By: baud2death @ 02:48 (EDT) / 458 / Comment ( 1 )

Poker is a gamble right? I don't think it is, at least not in the conventional way of the word. If you ask any non-poker player, they will view Poker as gambling. I really don't see Poker as gambling as to me gambling is as the dictionary definition :


"Take risky action in the hope of a desired result."


That definition is loaded with so many aspects that make it feel like a complete crap-shoot.

Take risks hoping for results.. makes us sound like we are betting on black and flipping a coin!


I don't view Poker in this way, don't get me wrong there is an element of risk vs reward that involves you investing money to win more money but I view it more like investing.

Now - there are views on that too

In investing, the odds are in your favor; in gambling, the odds are against you.

Peter Lynch has said that

    “An investment is simply a gamble in which you’ve managed to tilt the odds in your favor.”


So to make Poker about an investment vs a gamble, the odds have to be in our favor.

In typical Casino Gambling the odds aren't in your favor. You are betting fixed amounts to win fixed amounts based on pure odds. So if you bet $100 on a coin flip, you win $100 or lose $100 - if you did this over and over, you would eventually lose, the house always wins.

So how is Poker different?

In Poker we are using skill, knowledge, maths, awareness, tactics, psychology to put give ourselves the advantage more than the odds are giving us and against opponents who don't take these factors into account.

Stealing is a good example. In poker tournaments, if you can steal effectivly more than 50% of the time, you are ahead of the curve from an odds point of view.

We are always looking for the play, strategy and plan that puts us on a +EV line and tilt the odds in our favor.


There are certain spots where you can make +EV moves.

- Stealing blinds against tight players

- Floating and raising nitty c-betters

- Shoving open when short stacked


There are players that don't take advantage of these tactics and they will be in the odds against side of the equation, to them Poker is a gamble and they won't win.


As our skill level increases, so does our bankroll and so does our need to play higher stakes which in turn increases the skill level of our opponents. This becomes a delicate balancing act where we always want to be facing opponents that are just fish enough to pay us off but in games rich enough that we get paid well.

Too low stakes for our skill level and we are wasting time

Too high stakes for our skill level and we are wasting money


If Poker is played right, it isn't a gamble as a whole.

You may gamble on occasion during playing it but the way you play, the overall mentality and plan isn't a gamble and thats the most important part.


We take risks every day. We gamble that the minor road is quieter than the motorway. We use information to hand like traffic reports and our own instinct to make the decision and go with it.

Do we have a cheeseburger for lunch or a salad?

Do we want to buy a morning paper or wait until the evening post?

Should we get that soft drink now or perhaps wait until the weekend shop when it could be on offer?

Will that milk keep for another day?


Money is sometimes at risk in these scenarios too but we take them as part of life.

Gambling is something i rarely associate with Poker and will defend against it as I really believe that since you are playing against other opponents, if you can play better you can absorb the luck element because your opponents will pay you off to compensate.


To me it is like being a Pool Hustler.

If you are good at Pool, is it really a gamble when that drunk walks into the bar to challenge you to a wager on a game?


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