Game of Skill: Success Rate of Poker Players Matches That of Top Baseball Teams

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Game of Skill

Poker pros love Freakonomics and a recent finding that appeared on James McManus’s seemingly supports the argument that poker is indeed a “game of skill” through a comparison with Major League Baseball

Freakonomics Guy, a.k.a. the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Steven Levitt, recently demonstrated that the success rate of strong poker-tournament players (54.9 percent) roughly matches that of the top baseball teams (55.7). No one denies baseball is a game of skill.

For the eternal optimists out there, McManus provided some grains of hope in regard to the potential legalization of online poker in the coming months. 

There's so much bipartisan support for licensing and taxing online poker, it's hard to know where to begin. Writing together for The Hill, Louis Freeh (a federal judge appointed by George H. W. Bush, later appointed FBI director by Bill Clinton) and Tom Ridge (a Republican who served as secretary of Homeland Security and governor of Pennsylvania) called the UIGEA "the 21st-century version of the Volstead Act." Freeh and Ridge recognize poker as "a game of skill" that "millions of Americans already play with family and friends or just to have fun." Instead of banning it, they recommend "a strict regulatory framework for licensing and enforcement of online poker [to] provide a safe, legal environment for this activity to continue."

McManus also offers up an interesting perspective of the Full Tilt Poker debacle, fully disclosing that he had once represented PokerStars.  Both companies came under fire last April by the US Justice Department.  Executives of both organizations were charged with the following in New York's Southern District court in Manhattan:

  • 1. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act Conspiracy
  • 2. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act: PokerStars
  • 3. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act: Full Tilt Poker
  • 4. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act: Absolute Poker
  • 5. Operation of an illegal gambling business: PokerStars
  • 6. Operation of an illegal gambling business: Full Tilt Poker
  • 7. Operation of an illegal gambling business: Absolute Poker
  • 8. Conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud
  • 9. Money laundering conspiracy

- Chris Costigan, Publisher