By Haley Hintze
Using a formula which has been part of the Dutch government’s official determination for games of skill when compared to games of chance, Dutch mathematics professor Ben van der Genugten has criticized the Netherlands‘ official position regarding poker, which was put into place in a 1998 court decision which granted the exclusive rights to offer poker within the country to Holland Casino. Van der Genugten’s statements on poker were issued in his retirement address, and join a growing body of mathematical proof that clarifies the skill element of poker.
In assisting the Dutch government in assessing the skill elements of various games as regulated under the Dutch Betting & Gaming Act, van der Genugten, a probability and mathematical statistics professor at the University of Tilburg, used a rather simple formula to give each game an overall „skill“ rating. Van der Genugten worked with Peter Borm, a professor of mathematics and game theory, in assessing various games.
The formula the two professors used was this:
Skill = Learning Effect / (Learning Effect + Chance Effect)
In the above, „Learning Effect“ was further defined as the difference in performance between an optimum player and a beginner. A game of total chance has a „Skill Rating“ of zero, while games including some skill move higher on the scale according to skill’s influence on results. While other casino games involved no skill at all or only in very small amounts (including blackjack), van der Genugten and Borm found that poker’s measure of skill (0.4 on their scale), exceeded that of even fantasy sports, which checked in at 0.3. The 0.4 rating is quite high, on the order of chess, leading to van der Genugten’s departing statements and to growing calls for poker to be reexamined under Dutch law.