Skill Games

Unlike gambling, skill games involve little or no luck. If you practice and improve, you will win more.

Luck is very often misunderstood as it affects outcomes in ways that might not be obvious at first. Luck is simply an outcome of an event which is due to some outside factor which you can’t control. It can have less of an impact the longer the length of time that passes or the number of events that occur (in this case games played).

The law of large numbers ensure that the results of a number of trials will tend to come closer to the expected value as more trials are performed. As an example if a fair coin is tossed 100 times it is almost guaranteed that the results will be somewhere close to 50 heads and 50 tails. If it is only tossed 10 times it is much more likely to be skewed in favour of heads or tails, this is due to luck.

This example is a good way to think of games like Poker which has an element of luck but are in fact skill games because if enough hands are played over a long enough period of time the better player will win more. However something like chess which has very little luck will always favour the better player over a smaller number of games. I say little luck instead of no luck because you could consider things such as being lucky that your opponent who is better than you is distracted that day due to reasons outside of the game itself giving you a chance to win due to your opponents mistake.

You can play every skill games offline for money but not online. This is because if you are playing something like chess online there is no way to know if your opponent is using a computer program to their advantage so most sites steer clear of offering it due to this ability to cheat. The more chance involved in a skill game the more likely you are to be able to play online. You can play for money is among friends/acquaintances for however much you are comfortable with. Whether a few pound or several thousand. Most games will have organised tournaments around the world in a casino or club.

Chess – Probably the closest thing to a pure skill game. The much better player will almost always win as they have a better understanding of the game, more experience and will make less mistakes. Very hard to find a money game online but there are tournaments held around the world.

Poker – Probably the most hotly debated game of all time about whether it is luck or skill. It is a skill game in the long run but a luck game in the short run. However most people underestimate how long the short run may last. The best player with the better strategy and ability to understand their opponent will win in the long run but there are variances which allows anyone to win in the short term. Most casino’s now offer poker and there are a huge number of sites you can play on.

Backgammon – Sitting somewhere between Chess and Poker, the dice introduce short term variances if one player rolls better for a number of games but the better player will win in the long run through a stronger strategy and making less mistakes. You can play in Backgammon tournaments in casino’s and clubs around the world.

Sport – Most sports are skill games. The better player or team usually wins. However something like tennis or Snooker can and will see the underdog win due to that element of luck or momentum (one player can be improving while the other is losing their ability). Team sports can have less shorter term variances because if one player in a football match is having an off day it doesn’t have such a huge impact as if a Tennis player is feeling unwell or struggling with the mental side of the game. Sports for money are always played offline. The top players in the top sports earn millions of pounds a year. But requires a huge amount of sacrifice to get to that level.

eSports – Competition among video game players are growing at an exponential rate. Similar to sport, the better player or team will win more as most video games can be improved through practice. These can be played online but most big tournaments are held in arena’s to prevent cheating and allow people to spectate.

Top Tip

Even with skill games, much like gambling, it is worth having funds allocated purely for the purpose of staking yourself in games or tournaments. No matter how good you are you will probably be up against someone who is better than you at some point. Even if you are the best in the world you will probably lose at some point due to that little element of luck.