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Concept: Game of skill


Merit and justice play a crucial role in ethical theory and political philosophy. Some theories view justice as allocation according to merit; others view justice as based on criteria of its own, and take merit and justice as two independent values. We study experimentally how these views are perceived. In our experiment subjects played two games (both against the computer): a game of skill and a game of luck. After each game they observed the earnings of all the subjects in the session, and thus the differences in outcomes. Each subject could reduce the winnings of one other person at a cost. The majority of the subjects used the option to subtract. The decision to subtract and the amount subtracted depended on whether the game was one of skill or luck, and on the distance between the earnings of the subject and those of others. Everything else being equal, subjects subtracted more in luck than in skill. In skill game, but not in luck, the subtraction becomes more likely, and the amount larger, as the distance increases. The results show that individuals considered favorable outcomes in luck to be undeserved, and thus felt more justified in subtracting. In the skill game instead, they considered more favorable outcomes (their own as well as others') as signal of ability and perhaps effort, which thus deserved merit; hence, they felt less motivated to subtract. However, a larger size of the unfavorable gap from the others increased the unpleasantness of poor performance, which in turn motivated larger subtraction. In conclusion, merit is attributed if and only if effort or skill significantly affect the outcome. An inequality of outcomes is viewed differently depending on whether merit causes the difference or not. Thus, merit and justice are strongly linked in the human perception of social order.

Concepts: Psychology, Addition, Skill, Experiment, Game, Skills, Dice, Game of skill


A major issue in the widespread controversy about the legality of poker and the appropriate taxation of winnings is whether poker should be considered a game of skill or a game of chance. To inform this debate we present an analysis into the role of skill in the performance of online poker players, using a large database with hundreds of millions of player-hand observations from real money ring games at three different stakes levels. We find that players whose earlier profitability was in the top (bottom) deciles perform better (worse) and are substantially more likely to end up in the top (bottom) performance deciles of the following time period. Regression analyses of performance on historical performance and other skill-related proxies provide further evidence for persistence and predictability. Simulations point out that skill dominates chance when performance is measured over 1,500 or more hands of play.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Play, Performing arts, Game, Poker, Dice, Game of skill


Due to intensive marketing and the rapid growth of online gambling, poker currently enjoys great popularity among large sections of the population. Although poker is legally a game of chance in most countries, some (particularly operators of private poker web sites) argue that it should be regarded as a game of skill or sport because the outcome of the game primarily depends on individual aptitude and skill. The available findings indicate that skill plays a meaningful role; however, serious methodological weaknesses and the absence of reliable information regarding the relative importance of chance and skill considerably limit the validity of extant research. Adopting a quasi-experimental approach, the present study examined the extent to which the influence of poker playing skill was more important than card distribution. Three average players and three experts sat down at a six-player table and played 60 computer-based hands of the poker variant “Texas Hold'em” for money. In each hand, one of the average players and one expert received (a) better-than-average cards (winner’s box), (b) average cards (neutral box) and © worse-than-average cards (loser’s box). The standardized manipulation of the card distribution controlled the factor of chance to determine differences in performance between the average and expert groups. Overall, 150 individuals participated in a “fixed-limit” game variant, and 150 individuals participated in a “no-limit” game variant. ANOVA results showed that experts did not outperform average players in terms of final cash balance. Rather, card distribution was the decisive factor for successful poker playing. However, expert players were better able to minimize losses when confronted with disadvantageous conditions (i.e., worse-than-average cards). No significant differences were observed between the game variants. Furthermore, supplementary analyses confirm differential game-related actions dependent on the card distribution, player status, and game variant. In conclusion, the study findings indicate that poker should be regarded as a game of chance, at least under certain basic conditions, and suggest new directions for further research.

Concepts: Play, Playing card, Game, Skills, Dice, Card game, Texas hold 'em, Game of skill


Individual differences in personality are likely to play an important role in explaining the propensity to gamble. One of the potential roadblocks to elucidating the relation between personality and gambling may be inadequately accounting for the diversity of gambling activities. The goal of the present study was to provide a comprehensive and nuanced portrait of the relation between personality and gambling by taking a multivariate approach to the co-use of multiple gambling activities and employing a broad inventory of potentially relevant personality dimensions. Participants were 4,669 individuals from a national Australian twin registry. Structured interviews including an extensive assessment of gambling behaviors were conducted, and personality questionnaires that included the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire, the Sensation Seeking Scale, and the Magical Ideation Scale were completed. A latent class analysis of past-year involvement in 10 different gambling activities was performed to classify the participants into 5 groups. Unique personality configurations characterized the 3 more gambling-involved latent classes: (a) low behavioral control in the context of high negative emotionality and magical thinking typified extensive, versatile gamblers at high risk of gambling problems; (b) average behavioral control in the context of high negative emotionality and magical thinking typified those who primarily gambled on non-strategic games of chance; © low behavioral control in the context of high positive emotionality and low magical ideation typified those who primarily gambled on strategic games of skill. This study illustrates the value of using a multivariate person-centered approach for characterizing the personality correlates of the multifaceted phenomenon that is gambling. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Psychology, Dimension, Behavior, All rights reserved, Gambling, Tuple, Magical thinking, Game of skill