I somewhat disagree with Huff’s admittedly devil’s-advocate stance that “stupid” or “dumb-dumb head” play suggests the notion of poker as a game of chance, rather than skill.

A significant part of what separates the bad players from the good ones is the ability to minimize the reliance of chance in poker. As well all know, if someone is primarily (or solely) playing poker as a game of chance, they generally need to “get lucky” in order to win. They have to suck out. They have to cold-deck someone. They have to catch cards or make hands or simply get smacked by the deck to have any shot of success. And sure, in the short run, they will win (thankfully, too — it keeps them coming back).

In other words, a bad player’s haphazard play is the result of being less adept at the game, which supports the argument that poker is a game of skill.

Of course, the luck-heavy nature of poker in the short term attracts less-skilled players to the game. To an observer, it becomes quite apparent that in any given hand (or given session, or given tournament), the best player can lose and the worst player can win. Before you know it, that observer is sitting in the game and becoming that worst player.

The problem is that certain lawmakers are also playing the part of observer. They see that short-run variance in action. They see that ability to “get lucky.” Then they conclude that poker is nothing more a game of chance.

‘Tis a sad irony — the same thing that attracts the fish might just make it illegal for the rest of us to carry a rod and reel.