It’s better to be lucky than good. So said Lefty Gomez, a US sporting legend from the golden age of 1930s baseball.
There was probably a heavy dose of self-deprecating modesty in those words, but the homily has stuck for better for worse. In most circumstances, it tends to collapse under close analysis, but one context in which it provides food for thought is in games of chance like blackjack, slots or poker at the online casino.
Is it better to be skilled or lucky? Even more tantalizingly, does being skilled, in this context, at least, really mean knowing how to make your own luck?
Differentiating between skill and luck
The first step to making your own luck is understanding it. What we refer to as luck in the casino can be mathematically expressed as immutable statistical probabilities. A coin toss is the simplest example. You’ve a 50/50 chance of getting lucky. You could practice coin tossing for 20 years and write a 200-page treatise on your heads or tails calling strategy, and you’ll still have a 50/50 chance.
How about a card game? Nobody can predict the turn of a card any more than they can predict heads or tails. Or can they? In fact, that is exactly what card counters do to get an edge in blackjack. Keeping a mental score of whether high or low cards are dealt tells them whether the cards remaining in the shoe are mostly of low, medium or high value. Card counting is a skill you have to learn, and you could say it helps you improve your luck at blackjack.
If tossing a coin is purely luck-based and blackjack is mostly luck but can be influenced with skill, then surely poker is at the skill end of the scale. Let’s be honest, anyone can get lucky pitching a baseball just right, but that’s not what kept Lefty Gomez on the Yankees’ books for 13 years. Likewise, any one of us might get dealt a pair of aces in the pocket once in a while at poker, but that’s not how Daniel Negreanu came to be worth $60 million.
Know your skills to make your luck
From the foregoing, you might think luck is too fickle a mistress. Casinos don’t actually have coin toss games, but roulette is conceptually similar in that there’s no way of predicting where the ball will stop. The house edge of just over five percent means the odds are against you in the long run. Better to focus on a skill game, surely?
There is some merit to that, and if you’ve studied your poker strategy, know how to read the odds, are an expert at the bluff and can read your opponents like a book, this Ignition Poker review will give you all the information you need to join one of the biggest US online poker platforms.
Before you go though, just read through that proviso again. There’s another saying, not quite as pithy as Lefty’s, but probably more accurate, along the lines that skillful poker players thrive because most players are not as good as they think they are.
Develop your game and hone your skills and you can be a poker shark. But if you are relying on luck, those roulette odds suddenly look a lot less fearsome! Whatever your game, play for fun – and be lucky!