a few things
1. Gambling is playing a game of which the immediate result is influenced by a built-in element of chance. Since poker play includes an element of chance, that makes poker a form of gambling. Not in the simplistic and confused Barney Frank sense of "Gambling! Yuck! Burn it at the stake!" but as one small part of a complex picture.
2. There are two ways to approach gambling, which includes poker: as investment or as expenditure. An investor poker player treats his bankroll as a source of revenue. A spender gambler doesn't really have a bankroll; he uses cash to purchase time spent at entertainment. Just as he might plunk $300 down for concert tickets and then listen to music, he might plunk down $300 at the poker table for chips; but in both cases he has no expectation and little interest in walking out with any of that money. He's really spending the money on the time of three hours, which he passes engaged in an enjoyable activity.
3. A sucker game is one designed so that the player is guaranteed to lose. Three points need to be made here. First, there is a difference between a sucker game and a crooked game. In a crooked game the rules are not followed as they should be, and therefore the player loses. In a sucker game the rules can be (and often are) followed with obsessive scrupulousness, but it's the nature of the rules themselves that makes the player a loser; and crookedness on anyone's part can defeat the rules and turn that player into a winner. Second, it doesn't necessarily follow that, just because one player loses, another player wins. There are games, such as blackjack
, where the game is designed so all
players lose. So I define sucker games not by somebody making money off them but by the player losing money on them
. Third, every game that has a professional game administrator is automatically a sucker game, because either the administrator doubles as one of the players (as in blackjack) or the administrator takes an administrative fee out of the player's money (as in lotteries and poker). This means that every game run by a commercial operation is a sucker game.