Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chess or Poker?

Tommy Trouble explains why he prefers chess to poker:

Bizarrely, chess is unbelievably unpopular. Okay it is popular, but not popular enough....Poker is unbelievably popular, as is the lottery. The lottery is completely based on luck, and you can never say, with any confidence, that the best player will win. Poker also relies on luck, although there is some skill. However, I reckon I could beat (and be beaten by) anybody in the world. I could not say the same for chess. Maybe this is why people like poker, because everybody has a chance to win. Me, I prefer the honesty of chess. If you are bad at chess, no amount of Aces will help you to beat somebody significantly better than yourself. If you want a reliable challenge of mental ability, play chess.

Just a few thoughts -- while luck does play a role in poker, skill obviously is a very important component. How else can you explain the frequency with which the same top players (e.g., Ivey, Hansen, Hellmuth, Greenstein, etc.) reach final tables? On the other hand, these massively large tournaments like the Main Event at the WSOP do seem to be evolving into crap shoots with amateurs winning year after year. Chess probably does reward the better player more often (with wins, not money), though upsets do still occur.

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