Poker is Officially a Game of Skill, Rules a New York Judge

August 22nd, 2012


The internet ante has been raised once more. A New York judge recently called poker a game of skill rather than a game of chance. The judge’s lengthy ruling showed how players accomplish high winning against those with little to no experience around the green felt table.

On Tuesday, a federal criminal indictment against a New York businessman was dismissed. Lawrence Discristina sold electric bicycles and operated a poker club in a warehouse in Staten Island. Discristina was charged with violating the Illegal Gambling Business Act, which was established in the 1970s. The act included all games of chance, slot machines, lotteries, and bookmaking.

Discristina’s lawyers argued that poker did not fall into the chance category. The judge heard testimony from a professor who proved the game was all skill after analyzing millions of hands of online poker. Furthermore, the lawyers argued that forms of gambling covered by federal law involved betting against the house, whereas poker players bet against the others at the table.

The judge said, in a 120-page ruling, “neither the text of the IGBA nor its legislative history demonstrate that Congress designed the statute to cover all state gambling offenses, nor does the definition of ‘gambling’ include games, such as poker, which are predominated by skill.”

John Pappas of the Poker Players Alliance said that, “Today’s federal court ruling is a major victory for the game of poker and the millions of Americans who enjoy playing it. As the judge’s opinion aptly notes, poker is an American pastime that is deeply embedded in the history and fabric of our nation and his decision sets aside the notion that the vague laws render the game criminal.”

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