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Levitt's Poker Paper: It's a Game of Skill

Photo: Digital Vision

Steve Levitt has a new working paper: “The Role of Skill Versus Luck in Poker: Evidence from the World Series of Poker,” with University of Chicago colleague Thomas J. Miles.
Using data from the 2010 World Series of Poker, Levitt and Miles found that high-skilled players earned an average return on investment of over 30 percent, whereas all other players averaged a 15 percent loss. This finding has serious implications on the legality of online poker, as that debate is heavily dependent on whether the game is based on skill or luck.
The press has gone to town on Levitt’s timely paper, as the executives of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker – three online poker  companies – were indicted by federal prosecutors last month for “tricking” banks into processing gambling profits. Check out the coverage on the Times‘s Economix blogThe Huffington Post, and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.