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The Role of Skill Versus Luck in Poker: Evidence from the World Series of Poker

  • Steven D. Levitt
  • Thomas J. Miles

In determining the legality of online poker - a multibillion dollar industry - courts have relied heavily on the issue of whether or not poker is a game of skill. Using newly available data, we analyze that question by examining the performance in the 2010 World Series of Poker of a group of poker players identified as being highly skilled prior to the start of the events. Those players identified a priori as being highly skilled achieved an average return on investment of over 30 percent, compared to a -15 percent for all other players. This large gap in returns is strong evidence in support of the idea that poker is a game of skill.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17023.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17023.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Publication status: published as “The Role of Skill Versus Luck in Poker Evidence from the World Series of Poker,” Journal of Sports Economics : 2012 (with Thomas J. Miles). DOI: 10.1177/15270 02512449471
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17023
Note: LE
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  1. Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
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