Yes, that's what I said: You are NOT gambling when you play WINNING! poker.
Let me explain. . . What is GAMBLING? Recently I conducted a survey of the meaning of the word, "gambling." What does it mean? I queried members of my poker classes and the Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Sr. Citizens Center, and a number of others whom I deem expert in the game of poker, including Arizona Stu and Stan Sludikoff, the editor/ publisher of Poker Player and a consultant on gaming for an encyclopedia. They offered various definitions; best of all was Stan's: "Gambling is wagering at unfavorable odds."
Stan explained: "When the odds are in your favor, you are not gambling; your opponent is." That makes good sense. . . If I bet or risk my money when the odds are not favorable, I really am gambling. And that's why I feel very confident when I say that WINNING! poker is NOT gambling. My poker classes teach how to use the card odds - pot odds and card odds - to your advantage. Basically, you are using the laws of probability (which no one - not even a Congressman - can deny) to decide on your wagers. If the pot odds are greater than the card odds, you are favored to win money. Under those circumstances, you are wagering at FAVORABLE ODDS. Ergo: You are not gambling! When you are truly skilled, you can quickly estimate the card and pot odds, and make the decision on betting. (In my Poker 202 class, we learn how to estimate the cards odds during the play of the hand. And, recently, I wrote a column on "Using Pot Odds Preflop.") But it all boils down to one thing: If the card odds are too high against making the hand, then a skilled player will calmly fold and wait for the next opportunity. He won't gamble!
Wise Investing and Marketing. Well, if you are not gambling, what exactly is it that you are doing when you wager at favorable odds? I would call that INVESTING. Think about it. . . A good businessman purchases something to sell in his shop, expecting to then sell it at a profit. He is making an investment in anticipation of a profitable sale in the future. Wise investing is taking steps to ensure that you get a good return on your investment (ROI). In poker, the ROI is our positive expectation. A winner will make the bet (or raise), expecting that it will lead to profit - in the long run - when he subsequently wins the pot.
Carrying this analogy one step further, the successful shopkeeper also may be adept at marketing his product, so he sells more of the item and/or at a higher profit margin. A good poker player does the same thing when he takes steps to build the pot so his profit is that much greater when he wins that hand.
For example, when he holds a monster hand on the flop, he may check-raise or slowplay to keep opponents in the hand to pay him off on later, higher-priced streets. In the Final Analysis. By applying the laws of probability, a skilled poker player avoids GAMBLING and "earns" money by making informed and prudent investments, using the poker odds to his advantage. And so, WINNING!
poker is really skillful investing - not gambling. . . Losers gamble. Winners invest wisely.
. . . So readers, what's YOUR opinion?