Hallowed halls of academia weigh in on poker

And the verdict, from a recent day-long "strategy session" at the Harvard Faculty Club, according to the Wall Street Journal Online: poker is clearly a game some excel at and some don't, tipping the scales decidedly in favor of skill rather than chance.

How you prove that differentiation between skill and chance - and precisely define what those skills are - is the only place where things get murky.

But undeniably, according to game theorists, statisticians, law students, gambling lobbyists, and poker pros (including Howard Lederer and Annie Duke) who assembled at the behest of Harvard University Law School professor Charles Nesson:

"It's about time poker became a subject of academic inquiry," Nesson says.

The true nature of poker has been a contentious topic for years, and in particular since October when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came in to effect.

The Harvard strategy session is one of a growing number of efforts from academics and amateur enthusiasts alike, all rallying to the cause to make a case for poker through statistical, philosophical and legal analysis.

The end game: Clarification under U.S. law, where games that are predominantly chance are considered gambling, and ones mostly skill-based are not.

Among the studies in the works to that end: a data-heavy project from a statistician at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt's "Pokernomics" case study, aiming to analyze over a million poker hands.

The full article can be found here, at the Wall Street Journal Online.

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