The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that poker is a game of chance, and not skill. The three judge panel ruled that while a skilled poker player can tip the odds in his favor, they are always at the risk of being defeated due to the random turn of a card.
Why is this important? Betting on a game of chance is illegal in North Carolina. Howard Fierman sought to open a poker club in 2004, but was held up after Durham County District Attorney Jim Hardin advised him that it would be illegal, citing state law's that prohibited the wagering of money or other items of value on a game of chance.
Attorneys for Fierman argued that poker was much like golf, in that a recreational player might be a professional player on any given hole, however, a professional player would always win over eighteen holes, and that skill would ultimately be the determining factor.
Four expert witnesses were called to the stand, including one professional poker player, all arguing that a skilled poker player would have an advantage over an unskilled one.
In the end though, the judges determined that ultimately, a novice could beat a professional poker player due to a simple run of luck, thereby making poker a game of chance, rather than a game of skill. Taking that approach, it is hard to argue against the judge's logic. Poker is ultimately a game of skill and chance; there is no doubt that a skilled poker player has an advantage over an unskilled player, however, there can also be no doubt that a novice player could beat a seasoned player with a fortunate run of cards.
Filed Under: Poker Legislation