Pennsylvania Judge Rules Poker is a Game of Skill.

In a ruling handed down by Pennsylvania Judge Thomas A. James Jr. in Columbia County on Friday, it was ruled that Texas Hold’em is a game of skill and therefore not gambling under state law.

The ruling sets an “excellent bar” for future poker litigation, according to Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas.

The basic question, according to Judge James’ ruling, is whether poker is dominated by chance or skill. He commented “Simply, if chance predominates, Texas Hold’em is gambling. If skill predominates, it is not gambling.”

In the case of Texas Hold’em, Judge James explained that extensive literature exists that describes winning strategies to play the game. He even cited Mike Caro’s “Secrets of Winning Poker” by saying, “the money flows from the bad players to the strong players.”

In his ruling, Judge James explains that the “dominant factor test” has traditionally applied to games of skill and cites multiple mathematical studies that prove it, including one linking “poker and economics.”

An included study even explained that players receive equal amounts of premier and lackluster starting hands. However, “Beginning poker players rely on big hands and lucky draws. Expert poker players use their skills to minimize their losses on their bad hands and maximize their profits on their big hands.”

The defendant in the case, Walter Watkins, ran a $1-$2 No Limit Hold’em game out of his garage. No rake was taken, according to the PPA. Instead, players were encouraged to tip the dealer at the end of every hand based on the pot’s size, just as they would in conventional casinos. Only Texas Hold’em was played.

Clearly, the judge had an understanding of how poker is played. Coming to this decision, to him, was not a far leap. The decision sets an excellent bar for us in the future.

The UIGEA, which was passed in 2006, defers to existing state and federal laws when defining what is “unlawful internet gambling.

This is excellent news for online poker. If this can set a precedent for other cases we are all a step closer to the goal to regulate online poker in the US.

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Source: Poker news daily

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