US Judge: Poker Game of Skill

Published January 21, 2009 by OCR Editor

US Judge: Poker Game of Skill

Pennsylvania judge rules Texas Hold 'em legal in case that could prove to be a breakthrough for poker players across the U.S.

In somewhat of a breakthrough for online poker players all over the United States, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled that Texas Hold 'em is a game of skill and is therefore not considered gambling under state law.

In handing down his verdict, Judge Thomas A. James, Jr. said the basic question in determining whether Texas Hold 'em is gambling is to determine whether chance or skill predominates. Judge James cited poker literature, including Mike Caro's "Secrets of Winning Poker", to sow that there are strategies that allow a player to win the game.

Judge James explained the dominant factor test that is applied to games of skill can also be applied to poker. He even cited a study which shows that poker beginners receive big hands and lucky draws. The study shows that expert poker players use their skills to minimize their losses on bad hands and to maximize their profits on big hands.

"Clearly, the judge had an understanding of how poker is played...the decision sets an excellent bar for us in the future," Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas told Poker News Daily.

The defendant in this particular case was Walter Watkins, who ran a $1-$2 No Limit Hold 'em game out of his garage. He and dealer Diane Dent have both been cleared of 20 charges.

"It's unfortunate we had to go through all this," Watkins said. "We were arrested, taken out of our home, shackled and spent a night in prison. All for playing poker."

See also

South Carolina Court Declares Poker Legal

Mahjong Ruling Could Pave Way for Online Poker


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