The Two-Question Skill Game Litmus Test


What is the essence of the difference between a game of skill and a game of chance?  Most laws set the distinction as to which factor is dominant, skill or chance.  Yet, there is no standard on how to determine which one is the dominant factor.  We use poker hand histories and statistics to make our case, but the interpretation of these is subjective, as proven out by past jury and court verdicts.

I suggest that a two-question test could be utilized to distinguish between a game of chance and a game of skill, applicable in every case:

  1. Can a player by one or more moves cause all other participating players to lose?
  2. Can a player by one or more moves cause himself to lose?

Logically, if a game is one of skill, then there has to be the opportunity for a player to win by use of his skill and there has to be the possibility of a player to purposely lose by giving the other players the opportunity to win by the use of their skill.

As most games of skill include chance to some lesser or greater degree, I am not saying that the player must always be able to accomplish these two in every instance of the game.  Rather, I just propose that if a game includes the possibility of both of these per the rules of the game, then it is a game of skill.

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