Poker is often associated with other gambling casino games, and inherently causes many people to assume that winning at poker is all based on luck and chance. Most serious poker players will however consistently argue that it is a game of skill, and would happily sit at a table against anyone thinking they can win with luck on their side. So, is poker a game of skill or luck?
The short answer is that poker is absolutely a game of skill! There is a reason why so many of the same names and faces win the largest tournaments and cash games year after year.
Let me offer another great and simple argument that helps separate poker from other "pure-chance" games. To classify if games are skill versus luck, ask this question: can a player "lose the game on purpose". In other words, if you play any game, and personally have no control on whether you win or not, then you have a game of chance and luck.
If you put a dollar into a slot machine, you have absolutely no other decisions to make if you win or lose. When you buy a lotto ticket, you can not "not" win if you wanted to. Those are undeniably games of luck and chance. However in poker, it happens all the time when the person that is winning a hand "folds" and loses a hand based on their own decision. This is basically one of the exciting aspects of poker, which is getting a player who is way ahead in a hand to fold their winning hand.
This is also an explanation to why poker has become so popular and is now often televised on major TV networks. When you watch thousands of players in a poker tournament, you can see the players' hole cards, and many hands becoming exciting to watch as people throw away a winning hand. And the action can be just as intense, as you watch strong players that do have a strong hand fold, because of their ability and skill to determine that another player has them beat.
Now certainly, there is an element of luck in the game, and that also contributes to poker's rising popularity. If you had an opportunity to play one-on-one basketball against Michael Jordan, you probably will not have a chance to win at all. But in one poker game, because of this element of luck, an amateur poker player always has a chance to beat a top poker professional. But in the long run, a person needs strong, sharp skills to be a winning and profitable poker player.