Any way you dress it, poker is gambling.

Great points.

Do you consider yourself a professional gambler?

No. Number one, I don't make enough to support my family doing so. I
am "up" several thousand over the last 5 years and we have some nice
things that we've been able to buy because of the extra income but it
isn't enough to pay all the bills reliably. Number two I cannot stand to
be in a casino that long. Las Vegas is my favorite city in the world for
three days and then I want to get away as soon as I can. Number three,
even though in the long run things will work out, in the short run I
could (and have) had 13 straight 2 - 1 draws not make. The additional
pressure of NEEDING to win to pay bills is bad for your game. The
moment a poker player starts worrying about the money they play
different and any variation from their regular game is almost certainly
for the worse.

If asked "What is your dream profession?" I would probably say
"Professional Poker Player" but that really isn't true. Even though
pros like Phil Helmuth and Amarillo Slim have won documented millions
playing poker I am much happier knowing I can win (and do so) without
having to win. I get the best of both worlds and no pressure. Outside
that, I'd have to win the lottery to devote more time to poker, and
since I haven't remembered to buy a ticket in more than a year that
isn't likely to happen.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Matthew Speed"
To: ""
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 8:19 PM
Subject: RE: A thought about poker

I do not know of another game to which this applies. First of all, most
of the ways in which one can gamble are player vs house type games.
Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Keno, Video Poker, Pai Gow, Slot machines.
All of these games are either set up to give the house a rules edge or a
payoff edge where the player is either not likely to win and even if
they are they aren't getting paid correct odds to justify the wager in
the first place.

Another common way to gamble is pari-mutually. In these situations all
the money bet goes into a pool. Horses and dog betting works this way.
The house makes money on that by taking a cut out of the pool before any
winning bets are paid. A dog has a 1 in 8 chance of winning but after
the house takes its cut the payoff will be only 7 to one.

In sports betting, the house makes money by paying worse than even
money. A bet to win (subject to point spread) pays 10 for an 11 wager.
They set the line to encourage the bets to even out so that the person
who bets on the losing team pays the winner. Both bet 11 but only 21 is
paid out.

The common element of all these is that the game is stacked against you
before you even sit down or walk up.

Table poker is very different in many ways. First of all, the house is
not a player. The house deals the cards and enforces the rules but
every player is free to act in the same manner as every other player.
Second, poker is the only game in which one may see ones initial cards
without a bet. (This applies only to Hold 'Em and Omaha. Seven stud has
a small ante every hand. That is one of the reasons I don't play 7 card
stud) At a 10 seat Hold 'Em table each player has a forced (blind) bet
only two out of every 10 hands. This means that the player can choose
to enter a pot only when the cards are more favorable. One more factor
that makes poker unique is that it is the only game in which the best
hand doesn't necessarily win. In blackjack, a 20 will always beat a 19.
In poker, a player may make a bet that if not called by any other player
wins the pot regardless of what that player is holding. Another big
difference is that the payouts in poker are not fixed. Blackjack always
pays even money unless the player has a natural 21, a pass line bet in
craps always pays even money. The payoff in poker depends on how many
players stay in and how a player bets affects that. A player with a
straight flush that bets really big may scare off all the other players
and get paid worse than 1 to 1 on the best hand in poker. A simple pair
may win a pot and get paid 8 or more to 1. Everything depends on how a
player manages his bets when he has cards so that he gets stronger hands
to fold while encouraging weaker hands to stay in. The house, of course,
must make money on this and does so through a rake in which they take a
small percentage from each pot. A typical rake is 10% up to a maximum
of $3. In a 10/20 game (the level I play) a typical pot is $150. $3 is
a rather insignificant payment in comparison to the size of a winning

At the end of the day, poker still has a random element, and like all
games of chance people can become addicted. However, it is the only one
that is quantifiable in terms of probability in a manner that also
allows a player to adjust their actions accordingly. It is this freedom
of action that makes poker unique. Once a bet is placed in roulette,
craps, sports, blackjack or a slot machine there is nothing you can do
except see how it comes out. Only in poker can a player turn a losing
situation into a winning one through actions taken after the initial
bet. (Blackjack has a slight exception to this but it only comes into
play in a few very limited situations as opposed to always being in play
as in poker.)

I hope I am helping. If you really want to see how complex this can
get, go to the newsgroup and read one of the threads
entitled "Did I play x right?" in which a player will describe a
situation they either lost or felt they didn't win enough. You will see
occasionally see discussions of expected value and probability that make
my head spin and I am a software engineer with 22 hours of college
calculus and linear algebra. You'll see all those questions I asked and
more come into play for the decision on a single bet and there are 4
bets per hand! To make it even more complicated the right thing to do
changes depending on the limits of the game.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 4:09 PM
To: Matthew Speed
Subject: Re: A thought about poker


You bring up some interesting points, but let me get this clear: This
only applies to poker and no other game?

I'm thinking about adding a section on a message board based on your

I should be bringing my points with the question tonight.

Thanks again.

Best wishes,
The online community for gamblers

----- Original Message -----
From: "Matthew Speed"
To: ""
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 2:12 PM
Subject: RE: A thought about poker

Hi Matthew,

You wrote:

"The key to profitable poker is managing the reward versus the risk. In
poker, unlike every other game, that decision must be made several
times. Whether I even enter the pot in the first place is a result of

Let's assume John has an ace and a king.
Larry has a five and a four.

Who should fold before the flop?

In general, Larry would fold pre-flop but his actual action would depend

Is either one the big or little blind?
Are the 4&5 the same suit or different suits?
Is Larry first to act or is he in late position?
Did John raise with his cards?
Has either player acted yet?
Are there other players already in the pot?
Have any of them raised or is it a single unraised bet to Larry?
How much money do each of them have relative to each other and the other
players still in and at the table?
What percentage of their current stack will it take to call a bet?
Have the blinds just gone past or are they coming?
Are the blinds big enough to put either all-in the next time they come
Will calling a bet put one or either of them "all-in"
Does either have enough to put the other "all-in" if they were to raise
or reraise?
What is the relative size of the stacks of the players left to act?
What have they done with those cards in the past?
When they had those cards in the past did they win or lose without
having to show their hand?

Even if we assume it is just the two of them, I still have to know the
answers to most of those questions.

All of these must be known elements to answer this question every time
someone is to act. If this were a tournament situation there are even
more questions I would have to ask and I haven't even touched on the
psychology questions yet.


As it turns out, Matthew Speed was and is still hawking his "winning" poker system on message boards across the Internet.

Poker is gambling.


Yes, Poker is gambling... and it if one has to play or likes to play, it is better to be a 'lucky' player than a good one. However, in both cases, the time will come when you find somebody better than you, or luckier than you. And you can take that to the Bank!



Interesting post however, I am not sure it is appropriate for this board....too much talk about gambling and how to control the situation which for most on this site is not an option. I would liken the discussion of cards and casino's equivalent to talking about how to smoke crack in moderation to a gambler who is just coming off of a binge. All it does is get the urges started. I agree with Rob, I think the board should avoid direct discussions about the actual act of gambling and focus the process of getting away from the activity.


You have a good point here. When people talk of 'controlled' gambling, or 'systems' and 'ways to win' etc etc. It gets the mind of the addict into thinking that they 'just might' be able to go that way. ANYTHING just so they can 'justify' their addiction.

If people do post such information, it is absolutley imperative, that they also end with statistics

this is very long debate for

this is very long debate for adjudging whether the poker games are gambling games, but still there is always sort of confusion on this, because every person looks from this own point of view,i think poker games are strategy games rather the gambling.