Judge calls poker a game of skill; 3 acquitted

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Three men, who organized an illegal poker tournament in 2007, were acquitted of violating the Gambling Act by the Amsterdam court. Their lawyer, Peter Plasman, argued that poker is a game of skill, not a gambling game. The court ruled in his favor.

In 2010 Plasman won a similar case in The Hague with the same argument. The Prosecution appealed the court's ruling, but dropped the case at the last minute for unclear reasons.


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If the Prosecution decides not to appeal this decision, or if they lose the appeal, the message sent out is basically that anyone can organize or attend a poker tournament in the Netherlands, according to Plasman.

'The game of poker has evolved tremendously over the years,' said Plasman. 'Many people play the game today, study books have been published on the subject, and experts acknowledge the skill level has increased to a point where one can no longer speak of a game of chance.'

The Prosecution referred to a ruling by the High Council in 1998, stating the way poker was played in earlier years, was by gambling.

The ruling will not affect the ban on offering online poker games, according to Plasman. It makes a difference that the players are physically in the same room, and bluff other players out of a game with psychological insight. The rulings of the Hague court and the Amsterdam court only apply to live tournaments. Quite possibly a distinction will be made at some point between digital and live poker games, according to Plasman.

The Prosecution is debating whether to appeal the court's ruling. The Ministry of Security and Justice will not comment on the matter.

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