Luck vs Skill

Luck vs Skill

The reality is that as much as we might like to believe that games are all about skill, there are very few that don’t involve an element of luck. And it is this element of luck that makes a game more entertaining because it brings an uncertainty and unpredictability to proceedings that keep things fresh.

It is one of the reasons why, though I enjoy computer gaming, I often find it difficult to return to a game once I have conquered it because mastery of a console or PC title often means you have beaten a simple set of pre-programmed rules and once this is achieved you will always be able to return and repeat that success.

Even for a complex board game such as chess, where luck plays no part, pitted against another human player you can always rely on the unpredictability of your opponent to bring a random element into the battle.

This isn’t the case for games that rely on cards, dice or roulette wheels because there is no system that can predict the numbers that the dice or ball will fall on or the cards that you might be dealt in a hand of poker.

That’s not to say a game like poker doesn’t require elements of skill. In many ways, poker is like a series of small puzzles. The hand you are given challenges you to then solve how probable it is for you to win and the bets you make are often dictated on how likely you feel you are to win a game.

When it comes to gambling the same situation exists although there are those who feel that a system such as matched betting is a technique that many people are using to profit from bookmakers. It is a technique that puts the odds a little more in the favour of the player, although once again nothing is full proof.

Take this to the next level and think about competitive sport and how often the favourites for a football game or tennis match suddenly and quite unexpectedly come unstuck. It is what makes live games so exciting because there is no way or really knowing the outcome.

I guess the overriding point I want to make from all of this is that the best games, the ones that get the adrenaline racing and the heart pounding, are those that play on the uncertainty. It’s what being human is all about.

And luck as much as the skill is responsible for that.