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Colorado man beats gambling charge by arguing that poker is a skill

 
 
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 06:55 pm
Definition clears man of gambling charges

Quote:
When Windsor resident Kevin Raley started helping to organize friendly poker tournaments in a Greeley bar, he never thought he'd end up in court facing charges of illegal gambling.

But following an undercover investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Raley and four other players were arrested in August. They were charged with professional gambling and illegal gambling, and faced jail time if convicted.

Last week, however, a Weld County jury agreed with Raley's argument that poker games between friends are just that - poker games between friends. The jury acquitted Raley on a charge of illegal gambling after prosecutors dropped the professional gambling charge before the trial began.

"We never believed we were doing anything wrong whatsoever," Raley said. "It's entertainment. Some people go to the movies. Some people play golf. I play poker."

The national Poker Players Alliance helped Raley, a software consultant, mount his defense, paying for an expert witness to testify that poker is a game of skill, not chance.

Under Colorado law, illegal gambling "means risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device, or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control, but does not include bona fide contests of skill."

The PPA's expert, professor Robert Hannum of the University of Denver, testified that poker isn't dependent primarily on chance but on each player's skill. Hannum is a professor of statistics and is the author of the book "Practical Casino Math."

Hannum said there are many factors that go into how a player plays a game of poker, and few of them are based on chance.

"There are a lot of facets to the skill, in terms of knowing the math and the odds, reading the people, trying to glean what other players' hole cards might be. But it's all expressed in the decision they make in how much money, if any, they are willing to invest," Hannum said.

He noted that a skilled poker player will beat an unskilled one "consistently and probably convincingly," but that true games of chance require no skill.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 1,417 • Replies: 19
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:26 pm
@Robert Gentel,
It definitely is a game of skill...one I have very little of. But, just before coming back here tonight, I did win a one table tourney at Poker Stars. I play very low stakes...'cause I am a pauper.

Understand you went big time.

How did it go?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:39 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Well it certainly wasn't big time. I quit my day job and started playing the 1/2 game at a local casino, did Vegas for a month. Played one of the World Series tournaments while there and cashed. That's about the highlight of it.

All in all, the cash games are a bit too boring for me (when you do it as a job it's not the same as doing it for fun) and there aren't enough games going on to live off of down here in Costa Rica anymore, so I work as a consultant now.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 07:15 am
@Robert Gentel,
I've come to the conclusion that I can never be a decent poker player.

For one thing, my math skills are abysmal...and obviously the math necessary to see a odds on bet are daunting for someone with poor math skills. But even that can be overcome, in a fashion, by paying attention to the bets and pot...and at least knowing a bit about the odds of hitting your outs. Saw Annie Duke interviewed once...and she admitted she couldn't do the math...and went with the feel of the pot and the bet. Not like her brother at all!

But the "patience" factor is the real fly in my ointment. As you can tell from some of my conduct here...patience is not my long suit. And nothing is a bigger killer of the game--especially in tournaments--than lack of patience.

That, and the fact that my father, who obviously influenced me a lot...never backed a nag who sat in the gate at less than 15 to 1. I take chances I shouldn't too often.

Anyway...I just am so in love with the mental game of going against someone in Hold 'em...I doubt my deficiencies will ever wean me off the game completely. I play a few live tourneys with the local cops and firemen...50 to 75 guys with a $50 to $75 buy-in...and lots of Internet action.

I play mostly tournaments...cash games are too dangerous with my finances.

Would love to bump heads in live action in Atlantic City...but I have decided my best chance at sanity involves never going to that place. I live less than a three hour drive from AC...and have spent a total of 5 minutes in a casino there total for my life. And that was to pick Nancy up after trying out for Jeopardy!...which held its trials in an upstairs room at a casino.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 07:43 am
I believe that the courts in California in a similar case back in the early part of the 20th Century ruled that draw poker (but not stud) is purely a game of skill and does not fall under any anti-gambling laws of that state.
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 07:54 am
@Robert Gentel,
Craven, Did you ever watch this movie?

http://www.tsblogs.com/fatguys/21-movie-poster-kevin-spacey-kate-bosworth1.jpg

No way could I ever play any kind of poker. I don't have the face for it.
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 09:43 am
@Letty,
i beg to differ.

more a game of patience.

is patience a skill or a virtue?

or both Razz
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 03:11 am
Of course, if this gent is taken out the back of the casino and his legs broken with a sledgehammer he might need to 're-frame' his perception of a 'friendly, skillful' game.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 04:02 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:
For one thing, my math skills are abysmal...and obviously the math necessary to see a odds on bet are daunting for someone with poor math skills. But even that can be overcome, in a fashion, by paying attention to the bets and pot...and at least knowing a bit about the odds of hitting your outs. Saw Annie Duke interviewed once...and she admitted she couldn't do the math...and went with the feel of the pot and the bet. Not like her brother at all!


Let me teach you a shortcut then. Count your outs, multiply that number by two, and then by the remaining cards to come on the board and you'll have your odds of winning within a few percentage points.

Here's an example:

You have A♥K♥. The flop comes 2♥9♥8♤ giving you a flush draw. Your opponent goes all in, and you put him on a pocket pair. Something like Jacks. What are your odds of winning?

Well, there are 3 more Kings out there, 3 more Aces out there, and 9 other hearts out there for your flush. so your odds of winning are those 15 outs X 2 X the remaining cards to come (2), or in other words you have about a 60% chance of winning that hand.

That little trick basically works like this: the cards in the deck is rounded to 50, and as such any card has a 2% chance of being dealt. So on each street, you have your outs * 2 of a chance of hitting it.

That little math shortcut doesn't tell you much about what to do with this information, but then you just apply basic pot odds and a simplified rule is to not call if you have to pay a greater percent of the pot than the odds of winning.

So if, in my example, the pot was $1,000 preflop, and on the flop the guy went all in for another $500 you should call with the following caveat:

You need to be good at knowing your outs. For example, if the guy didn't have Jacks but has pocket Aces you now don't have 15 outs, you have 9. So this is just a quick way to calculate the odds, but you need to input the right data.

Quote:
But the "patience" factor is the real fly in my ointment. As you can tell from some of my conduct here...patience is not my long suit. And nothing is a bigger killer of the game--especially in tournaments--than lack of patience.


I hear you. Discipline is 90% of poker for a guy like me. But for me cash games are much worse. At least in a tournament you only have to be patient till the blinds are big enough that you are forced to play, whether you want it or not. In a cash game there's nothing to hold on for and you just always need to be patient.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 04:11 am
@Letty,
No, but I'm not much of a gambler. I have only played blackjack once and for less than 5 hands. I was waiting for the poker tables and started playing blackjack to pass the time. I was down 500 in a few hands and then my next bet was for $500. I won it and walked away.

I broke even in my blackjack career, which is all I want out of it. Poker is all about not playing when the odds are against you, and in blackjack the odds are against you. Gambling can be fun, but being good at gambling basically means not gambling on bad odds. In a casino poker is the only thing that gives me good odds, the rest are all losing games. Over time, everyone loses. I can't enjoy gambling on games of chance any more. Sure, you are only a 49% or so dog in blackjack but that's still a losing game in the long run. In poker I fight for the couple of percentage points of an edge over the other players and the rake and I've seen too many good poker players sit down at a game of chance and give it all back to get into other table games.
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 05:11 am
@Robert Gentel,
Watch the movie, Craven. It is excellent with a surprise ending. Has to do with card counting. Had no idea what that meant. Although it's a mite slow at the beginning, it builds and from that moment, the viewer is caught up in the plot.

Never have seen Kevin Spacey in a bad movie.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 07:58 am
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks for the shortcut, RG. I remember Daniel Negraneau mentioning something like this in one of his columns. And it seems I did try it for a bit...but...

I do try to count my outs after the flop each time...even if I am not equiped mentally to do much with the info. If anything, it forces me to slow down a bit. That impulsive streak is magnified 1000 times when playing Internet rather than live.

And I even have a "odds calculator" available if I want to click on it during a game.

You have inspired me to give this method another shot. I'll do it if I play later today. I also realize that when playing tournaments...you've gotta be much more conservative early on than in cash games. In cash games you often are looking for an excuse to raise...where in tournaments (early) you gotta be focused on reasons to get the hell out.

We'll see. This is like chess to me...I just love the head game part of it.
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 08:19 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
You have A♥K♥. The flop comes 2♥9♥8♤ giving you a flush draw. Your opponent goes all in, and you put him on a pocket pair. Something like Jacks. What are your odds of winning?

Well, there are 3 more Kings out there, 3 more Aces out there, and 9 other hearts out there for your flush. so your odds of winning are those 15 outs X 2 X the remaining cards to come (2), or in other words you have about a 60% chance of winning that hand.

How does that work when there are more than two playing?
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 08:24 am
@Ticomaya,
Figuring odds works no matter how many players are in the game. The outs are counted against the remaining deck. You have no idea if any of the outs are part of the cards dealt to (however many) opponents or left in the undealt deck.
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 11:11 am
@Frank Apisa,
Gotcha.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 11:57 am
@Ticomaya,
One other thing that has to be considered, Ti...is...does “making” the hand actually mean that it is a winner.

What RG was describing was the process of figuring the odds of “making” the hand...in this case, an A high flush. “Making” the hand doesn't ALWAYS mean a win...often it does...but the chances that it won't win have to be considered..

If in his example, the hand is “made” by the 8 of hearts falling (making a pair on board)...or it is "made" by the next two cards being a pair, with one a heart...the had would be made, but the possiblity of a full house out there to beat you has to be considered. If there were no pairs after the the five common cards are dealt and a heart has fallen...you'd have “the nuts”...an unbeatable hand with the heart A in your hand.

Someone counting outs has to consider this in the count...and often if a card will help you make a straight (is one of your outs)...but one of the cards necessary for that fill would make a third of a suit on board...you shouldn't count that card as an out.

All this contributes to why this kind of poker is considered skill rather than chance.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 12:47 pm
@Ticomaya,
Ticomaya wrote:
How does that work when there are more than two playing?


The same way, it does not change based on how many players there are, it's basically a mathematical shortcut to make it easy to calculate the odds.

In poker (holdem in this example), no matter how many players there are you (should) only know about 2 cards in your hand and the ones on the board. The rest you have to assume have an equal likelihood of being distribution among the other players, the board, and the burnt cards.

So if you have an Ace in your hole cards you have 2 cards out of 52, meaning that there's a 3/50 chance that the first card dealt on the flop is an Ace.

But the pot odds change and the outs change. So the data that goes into the shortcut should change. If someone else is calling, they might be on a flush draw as well, and if yours is lower then all those hearts are now not outs for you.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 12:53 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Ah, I see that you'd already answered the question and made the additional point about picking the outs.

But most good poker players don't need to calculate the odds that much, we hit the same situations so many times (the straight draw and flush draw are among the more common ones) that you just memorize (sometimes subconsciously) what the odds are.

So for a garden variety flush draw on the flop we know we have about a 36% chance of hitting it after seeing it so many times. We know that an inside straight draw is about 16% and an open-ended draw about 32% just because we've seen it thousands of times.
OGIONIK
 
  0  
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 11:45 am
@Robert Gentel,
i need to start poker again i gave up.

i seriously have ahd pocket aces so many time and just lost.

its mind boggling its like WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF. i cant even get one ace on the damn board? GOOD GAME.



ive been playing on myspace roflmfao.


i do really good. : P
OGIONIK
 
  0  
Reply Sun 8 Feb, 2009 12:04 am
@OGIONIK,
lame my dad took the money i was gonna play poker with.

the other money i need. cant spend = lame
0 Replies
 
 

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