Online poker players have long argued the card game, especially Texas Hold’em, is one of skill and not a game of chance.
That argument, they believe, exempts poker from the current federal ban on Internet wagering.
A judge in South Carolina last week, agreed with the argument. The decision in a case involving a 2006 police raid on a home poker game in Charleston was the third time in recent weeks a judge came to that finding. In January, courts in Pennsylvania and Colorado offered similar rulings.
South Carolina Municipal Judge J. Lawrence Duffy said that the evidence in favor of the “poker as skill” argument was “overwhelming.” His ruling came following testimony from poker professional Mike Sexton.
However, the judge upheld charges brought against five men accused of running an illegal gaming house contrary to South Carolina law, citing the need for further clarification on poker’s status from a higher court.
The 2006 police raid found the five men competing in a play-for-money poker game where they had paid a $20 buy-in to participate in a tournament. The men said that they had been drawn to the games via a local poker Web site, CharlestonPokerMeetups.com, but argued that as poker is a game of skill, it could not be considered illegal gambling under South Carolina gaming statutes.
To bolster the skill argument, expert testimony came from University of Denver professor of statistics Bob Hannum, and Sexton, a former World Series of Poker champion and current host of World Poker Tour events.