What is ‘Luck’?
“The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Gary Player, nine-time golf major champion.
Luck is the belief of winning or losing through events or circumstances operating for or against someone. An experienced Poker player, for example, wouldn’t argue that there is a certain amount of luck involved when they win, but they know the actions they make contribute to the outcome.
In all forms of winning, luck is can be seen as a key factor or intervening force that makes a difference. Luck is being open to opportunities by making preparations, such as developing skills. Luck is about recognizing opportunities. Luck is about participating in events, and not just being a spectator. Luck is understanding how one’s intuition works, by paying close attention to how you feel, and listening to your inner guidance system. Luck is something that runs in streaks for the sake of balance. Luck is about knowing when something isn’t meant to be, and being okay about it, so we won’t overlook other opportunities that come our way. People who appear luckier than other people, or just simply have better luck more often than others, understand and apply the dynamics that create more good luck in their lives.
Take a look at games involving pure chance, like roulette, where intentionally losing is impossible, because every Bet has the equal chance of winning. This is not so with poker. In the short term, luck can overpower any skills you have, however over a period of time, skill will always prevail when it comes to poker. Experienced players know to take advantage of good luck when it presents itself, and how to curtail its presence with their opponents.
In the game of poker, there is a good balance of luck and skill, if it were were based only on skill, inexperienced players wouldn’t play because of losing all the time. If it were based purely on luck, professional poker players wouldn’t be where they are today.
This balance of luck and skill in poker, gives even inexperienced players the chance to win a poker tournament, but over time, it is the skilled players claiming victory, as luck equalizes and skill remains present. What becomes challenging, is how to deal with the psychological consequences of each component. Poker players are required to make decisions that require a great amount of skill to navigate effectively. For instance, whether to bet, raise, or fold a Hand of cards. The decisions every player makes in every poker game impacts their ability to win, or the reason they lose.
Furthermore, the various levels of skill directly influences the results of each player. The player’s ability to read their opponent gives them an edge, and their ability to force will upon another player’s actions, like making an opponent fold by bluffing, allows them to create their own luck. It is all about playing the percentages, because there is no control over the cards that will be dealt, and no player is dealt a good hand 100% of the time, short of cheating. No player knows for certain their hand faces a better hand.
Another distinction of poker compared to gambling games involving pure chance, is the fact that when playing games of chance, players are playing against the house. There are statistical edges to all games in a casino where when playing against the house, players are destined to lose, proving the familiar phrase, ‘The house always wins.’ On the other hand, the house, or casino, has no interest in the outcome of a poker game or tournament. They are simply providing a venue for players to compete against one another, where one player will win at the other player’s expense.
Some will argue that luck is not a factor in poker, because it is a random event, and doesn’t favor one player over another. Poker is simply a mathematical equation that approximates the correct probabilities. Regarding the basic rules of poker, along with the values of the cards, the information is available to everyone, however it is the ability to interpret the information and put it into action, and not merely the presence of it, that determines a player’s skills.
The proper usage of defining skill and luck becomes interchangeable, as it is a player’s skill that allows them the ability to put the situation in their favor, by understanding the outcome and the odds of achieving them. Before the first card hits the felt, the cards have decided the destiny of each player’s hand, but it is the player’s skill that determines the eventual winner.
Lucrative success can be achieved by players willing to take time to develop their skills in poker strategy, along with understanding the value of luck that is involved, and embracing it. To become a winning poker player, it is vital to learn the technical skills involved in the elements of the game, including understanding the value of each hand, the draws, position, bluffing, and most of all recognize that poker is a game of variance with an element of luck.
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