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Games of Skill Versus Games of Chance: Understanding the Difference

It can be easy to miss it, but there is a clear difference between a game of skill and a game of chance. It is important to understand this difference because you will get a dramatically different experience depending on which game you play, as your odds of success and the fun you have may be greater in one game than the other.

Game of Chance

A game of chance, also known as a luck game, is a game in which skill has virtually nothing to do with the final outcome. In other words, your success or failure, as well as the ultimate amount of prize money you win, are completely independent of your skill level. Factors within the game make it virtually impossible for the skill of a player to have any role.

The outcome of these games is often controlled by some sort of randomizer that makes it impossible to determine if and when a winner will be selected. The list of popular casino table games include slots, video poker, roulette, and more.

Some of these games may also carry the illusion of skill. For example, players may think that they can spin the arm of a slot machine a certain way, or think that they develop a “winning technique” for rolling the dice. The truth is that these are simply psychological mechanisms that humans design to trick themselves into thinking they have a degree of control over the final outcome. In reality, when it comes to a game of chance, our odds of victory are fully dependent upon luck.

Game of Skill

A game of skill has aspects that a player can consciously improve upon in order to win a game. These skills can be mental or physical, but either way, a player has some degree of control over the action which allows them to improve at a game and ultimately increase their odds of winning it.

Games of skill are wide-ranging. Examples include board games, checkers, chess, and a variety of card games.

Games of skill may also have randomizing events that create the circumstances behind a potential win or loss, but ultimately, skill is involved. Many board games are great examples of this, as they involve dice rolling, but then require high levels of strategy or planning in order to be successful.

The Primary Difference

The primary difference between a game of chance and a game of skill is the level of luck versus the level of skill. Games of chance are virtually impossible to “game” or rig without cheating in some way, while players can improve their ability to win in a game of skill. These differences aren’t simply a technical matter but also a legal one.

There is not necessarily a strict dividing line between a game of chance and a game of skill. Indeed, many games break the mold and have features of both luck and skill. Poker is a great example: With the best luck, a player can potentially beat players with higher skill levels, but skill can often trump luck. Blackjack is another excellent example. Beating the house under one set of circumstances, like drawing two kings, could mean a loss in a different hand, such as if the house were to draw a jack of spades or a jack of clubs (blackjack.)