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Top Swedish judges attend 'poker school'

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Top Swedish judges attend 'poker school'
13:21 CET+01:00
An expert poker player gave Sweden's highest ranking judges a lesson on the art of playing cards on Tuesday in a case examining whether Texas Hold'em is a game of skill or chance.

The tutorial was giving by an experienced poker player who is serving as an expert witness in the case which will require the justices on Sweden's Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen – HD) to rule on whether chance or skill determines the outcome in a game of poker.

During the tutorial, the poker player showed on a screen how the game is played and explained what it takes to win.

He claimed that skill is critical for succeeding in the game, saying that being a successful poker player requires a special combination of talents.

"Courage, patience, experience, mathematical and psychological knowledge are some important characteristics," said the witness, according to the TT news agency.

It's also useful to be able to read one's opponents and try to see how he or she might react in the next phase of the game.

According to the witness, it takes an entire lifetime to be a skilled poker player.

"But you never fully complete your training. It takes a long time to become experienced," he told the court.

The man emphasised that it's always the better players that win major poker tournaments.

Another expert witness, Erik Broman, who holds a doctorate in mathematics from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, also claimed that the poker tournament at the heart of the case, which took place in Grebbestad in western Sweden in 2007, encompassed a game built on skill.

Four men were convicted of violating Sweden's gambling laws for organising the multi-million kronor tournament, which had hundreds of participants and lasted several days.

Two men were acquitted on appeal, while the remaining two had their sentences reduced in part because the appeals court accepted arguments that the tournament involved a game of skill rather than chance.

In order to be convicted of serious illegal gambling crimes, it is necessary for the game being played to depend to a substantial degree on chance rather than a player's skill.

According to Broman, random chance only comes into play when the first card is dealt.

"After the first card, skill is what matters. It's about how one reacts in different situations, bets, and calls," he said.

He explained as well that talented players employ something akin to the principle of moments.

"A little advantage in the start of the game can lead to greater dividends in the end," he said.

Broman added that the chances of winning money in poker without having some knowledge of the game are non-existent.

A player who relies on chance always loses.

"A talented player has a greater chance of winning than a less talented player," he said.

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