Poker a mix of skill, chance says U.K. court

It took only two hours for a U.K. jury to state what, for many poker players, is the obvious. Jurors found a London club owner guilty of organizing illegal Texas Hold'em tournaments, refuting his claim that poker is a game based solely on skill.

The game, they concluded this morning at Snaresbrook Crown Court, is a combination of both skill and luck.

This was not the verdict for which Gutshot Club owner Derek Kelly had hoped.

Kelly was charged with two counts of contravening England's Gaming Act after he hosted and took a rake from poker games held at his pub. The country's laws require a license to host games of chance, but not those of skill, such as chess.

The jury didn't buy Kelly's argument that poker is also a game requiring only skill to win and found him guilty on both counts.

The charges stem from two games of Hold'em, held Dec. 7, 2004, and Jan. 27, 2005, at which Kelly took an entry fee from players and a rake from the table.

England's Gambling commission released a statement following the trial, saying it was pleased the case had wrapped up.

"The law has always been clear, commercial gambling needs to be properly regulated to ensure that members of the public are protected from exploitation … The Gutshot was not regulated and was in serious breach of the Gaming Act 1968," the statement said.

Kelly will return to court for sentencing Feb. 16.

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