Contrary to the popular belief that card games such as poker and rummy are based on chance, a study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-Delhi) has highlighted the element of skill in it, debunking the long-standing misconceptions.
In games of skill, the outcome is primarily determined by skill, knowledge and strategic decisions of the players involved such as chess.
In contrast, games of chance rely heavily on luck and random events, with players having little control over the outcome. Games such as roulette, slot machines, as well as lotteries fall into this category. Poker and rummy have, for years, been seen as games of chance rather than skill. This differentiation often determines the legal and regulatory framework surrounding these games.
FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE MISCONCEPTIONS
- Element of chance: In both poker and rummy, there is an element of chance, as players do not know what cards or tiles they will be dealt. This can lead to some players believing that the outcome of the game is largely determined by luck.
- Perception of professional players: Some believe that professional poker and rummy players are only successful because they are lucky. They may point to the fact that these players often win large sums of money, even though they are playing against other skilled players.
- Popularity of gambling: Poker and rummy are often played in casinos, which are businesses that rely on gambling. This can lead to some people believing that poker and rummy are simply games of chance designed to separate people from their money.
The IIT-Delhi study, titled ‘Online Poker and Rummy – Game of Skill or Chance?’, led by Professor Tapan K. Gandhi, Cadence Chair Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Automation, has shattered the misconceptions around both card games. The study by Professor Gandhi and his team focused on understanding the dominance of skills in poker and rummy, both in online and offline settings.
The study not only reinforced the importance of cognitive skills and other abilities required for success in these games, but also analyzed the impact of experience and learnable skills on players’ long-term success.
About the study, Gandhi said: “Throughout our research, we were presented with compelling cases that made it clear that these sports indeed require a level of innate understanding that aided in building the cognitive abilities of the players. Not just limiting the skill aspect to the sport, we also noticed that the player’s softer skills like that of understanding social cues, taking decisions under high-pressure situations, memory retention amongst others advancing throughout the time they were playing consistently.”
Deepak Dhayanithy, Associate Professor of Strategic Management at IIM Kozhikode, who played a significant role in a previous report verifying poker as a game of skill, endorsed the findings, emphasising that skill, not chance, is the driving force behind long-term success in online card games like Poker and Rummy.
However, the IIT-Delhi study employed mathematical tools for a quantitative analysis to determine whether long-term success in online poker and rummy could be attributed to skill. Data from a diverse group of users who had played between 30 and 100 games in various formats was analyzed.
The findings were:
- Skill variables in both poker and rummy improved as users played more games.
- A measured correlation of 0.904 between users’ win rates highlighted a positive relationship, underlining the significance of skill over chance.
- Consistency in win rates suggested that mastering the games’ nuances and strategies significantly enhanced performance.
The findings are also expected to influence the perception, regulation and legal status of poker and rummy, setting the stage for broader discussions on skill-based gaming in the digital age.