‘Skill’ of poker under scrutiny

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/6264099.stm

Poker requires its players to absorb a “staggering” amount of information, a court has heard.

Speaking at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Derek Kelly, 46, is accused of running unlicensed games at the Gutshot Club in Clerkenwell, central London.

He denies two counts of contravening the 1968 Gaming Act which states a licence is needed to host games of chance but not games of skill.

Mr Kelly, from Co Wicklow, Ireland, also compared poker to a game of life.

‘Psychological skills’.

He is accused of organising poker games at his club – one on 7 December 2004, in which a levy was charged on winnings, and another on 27 January 2005, in which a fee was charged to take part.

“Without being ridiculous I think there is a reasonable argument to compare poker to the game of life,” Mr Kelly, a father-of-three said.

“It is a wonderful way of making friends, it is a wonderful way of making conversation, it is a wonderful way of challenging yourself, so I get a lot out of poker.

He said once the cards were dealt, they were there as a tool for players.

“It doesn’t happen over one hand, that is like saying Wimbledon is decided on the first serve, it won’t be decided on the first serve. Poker is about the long game,” Mr Kelly said.

Earlier, evidence was heard from Nic Szeremeta, 63, from Torquay, Devon, who publishes a poker magazine and is an expert in the game.

He had told the court he believed the level of skills required to play poker were “far higher” than bridge.

He also said the skills included an ability to assess mathematical probabilities, strategic and observational skills and psychological skills such as being able to read the body language of opponents.

“The poker game is not just playing cards. The poker game is getting to know the strengths and weaknesses and mannerisms and playing styles of the other people at the table,” he said

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