Swedish court says poker both skill and chance; all-star WSOP Rematches

TAGs: Samuel McMaster Jr, Sweden, world series of poker

swedish-supreme-court-poker-skillSweden’s Supreme Court has issued a ‘well, duh’ ruling that poker involves both skill and the element of chance. The case originally involved four men accused of hosting a 670-player poker tournament in Grebbestad in 2007. Two of the accused were acquitted, while the other two were given reduced sentences after an appeals court concluded that the tournament was primarily a skill-based activity. Games that involve a substantial element of chance are illegal in Sweden.

The Supreme Court judges issued something of a split decision, ruling that tournaments “were not random chance games, but that skill does come in to it.” So far, so good, in that the judges are acknowledging that a player’s talents become more apparent over time. However, that belief appears to have been inversely applied to cash games, which, because the player can choose to leave the table at any time, led Judge Göran Lamberth to “find this form to be a game of pure random chance.” It’s hard not to see an element of politics in play here, because had the judges ruled that poker in any form was a pure skill game, the Swedish government could have faced the possibility of a multitude of poker rooms setting up shop to compete with state monopoly Svenska Spel.

The 2011 World Series of Poker is getting nostalgic in its marketing efforts. On June 2, three pairs of big name players will go heads-up in rematches of classic WSOP contests. Fabled 2003 champ Chris Moneymaker will square off against 2003 runner-up Sammy Farha in a best of three series. Then Phil Hellmuth will give Johnny Chan a crack at avenging his 1989 loss to the Poker Brat. Fans are being given the opportunity to pick the third rematch from a selection of four options available on the WSOP Facebook page. These include Chan v. Erik Seidel (1988); Greg Raymer v. David Williams (2004); Jamie Gold v. Paul Wasicka (2006) and Jonathan Duhamel v. John Racener (2010). The rematches will be televised July 26 on ESPN.

Remember Samuel McMaster Jr., the securities fraudster convicted of 26 felonies that claimed he could only make the court-ordered restitution of $7,500/month if he was allowed to remain free to pursue his sole remaining source of income – playing professional poker? Well, his total winnings since his August conviction amounted to a mere $1,461, so District Judge Ross Sanchez sentenced the bum to 12 years in prison, plus he’ll still have to make good on the $450k he owes the folks he swindled. Hope they like cigarettes, because that’s the only currency McMaster has access to now.


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