Originally Posted by littledonny
In theory, people can play optimally against each other, but only if the cards are face up. In that case, the players lose an equal amount to the site in rake. Neither profits.
The statement "poker is a skill game" is far too simple of a description. There are many types of "games" within poker: cash vs. tournament is the biggest subdivision of poker, and there are numerous subdivisions within those.
Some subdivisions are more skill games than others. For example, there was a popular tournament style called double-or-nothings, where 10 people started a tournament and the top 5 won double the buyin. The problem with this type of poker game was that it was too close to being solveable, and thus even the best players were only winning at 1-3% return on investment. When the best players in the game can't win at a rate higher than that, they have to play massive volume to make a profit, and in effect, most of the money in the player pool eventually ends up going to the site as rake.
As people have gotten better, everyone's winrates have gone down, and before this, they were decreasing daily. The best will always be able to profit in the long run, but as the break-even players get better and the losing players quit, the definition of "skill" changes. In a player pool of only competent players, any expected skill edge will take much longer to actualize, and thus everyone has to play more volume than they were previously to maintain the same profit. In other words, the luck factor dominates the short-run, and the short-run gets longer and longer.
This is why great players who had previously never had losing months/years were starting to have them. A sample size of 1000 multi-table tournaments used to be a great predictor of a player's actual skill edge, and now it's laughed at as meaningless as a predictor of future winrate. When people ask "what's a good sample size to determine my winrate?" the answer has been steadily increasing.
I still think it's a game of skill, but it's not as clear-cut as proponents of the game advocate, or want to believe.
Poker IS a form of gambling. I think everyone knows this. What makes it different from other forms of gambling is that the more skilled players will win in the long run. Make no mistake, if you are better than your opponents, you WILL win their money over the long run. That much is clear cut. Whether you are willing to treat it like a full time job or not is another discussion entirely.
Now, tournament poker absolutely has a lot more variance than cash games. Once the blinds get large, it becomes a lot of flipping and shoving for blinds and antes. The games have always been this way. If you ever played Rush SnG's on FTP.. you'll find PLENTY of horrible players. You have to game select and know what structure works best for you with a tournament.
I, however, play cash more than tournaments. Cash has less variance involved (also requires a little more skill) but even great players still lose. Also, there will always be fish (bad players), even if the games aren't like they were in 2006.
You seem to imply that playing poker should be really easy? And if you can't win huge all the time, then it's not worth it? I was averaging +15 buyins a week (playing 4-5 hours a day) this year. Sure, I had some times where I ran bad and at one point was down 13 buyins over a three day period but I turned that around and ended up for the week. The games are still totally beatable.
One complaint I hear a lot is that nowadays people play really tight and only play premium hands so there's no way to win and it's become losing all your money w a straight vs a flush etc. That's nonsense. When people are playing super tight, a good player starts playing really aggressive and loosens up. Some players never adjust and you steal their money all day.. others do and you force them to play outside their nitty comfort zone. If you can play post flop and know what you're doing, you'll clean up... even verse "regulars".Edited by secretsexyninja - 4/30/11 at 5:43pm