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Beyond chance? The persistence of performance in online poker

Potter van Loon, Rogjer J.D.; van den Assem, Martijn J.; van Dolder, Dennie

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Rogjer J.D. Potter van Loon

Martijn J. van den Assem

Dennie van Dolder


A major issue in the widespread controversy about the legality of poker and the appropriate taxation of winnings is whether poker should be considered a game of skill or a game of chance. To inform this debate we present an analysis into the role of skill in the performance of online poker players, using a large database with hundreds of millions of player-hand observations from real money ring games at three different stakes levels. We find that players whose earlier profitability was in the top (bottom) deciles perform better (worse) and are substantially more likely to end up in the top (bottom) performance deciles of the following time period. Regression analyses of performance on historical performance and other skill-related proxies provide further evidence for persistence and predictability. Simulations point out that skill dominates chance when performance is measured over 1,500 or more hands of play.


Potter van Loon, R. J., van den Assem, M. J., & van Dolder, D. (2015). Beyond chance? The persistence of performance in online poker. PLoS ONE, 10(3), Article e0115479.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 2, 2015
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 17, 2015
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 3
Article Number e0115479
Keywords poker, online poker, no limit texas hold’em, online gambling, skill, chance, game of skill, game of chance, performance
predominance test
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