This is a discussion on How to explain randomness to laymen? within the online poker forums, in the General Poker section; how to explain the randomness of the deck to outsiders without making it look like a game of chance?
how to explain the randomness of the deck to outsiders without making it look like a game of chance?
It is difficult because variance/luck/randomness factor into play.
Rather than grapple with that concept if I ever discuss poker outside of the community I take the simple route of noting better players succeed over weaker players - they cash more regularly, they run deeper in tournaments, they win. This shows players know how to navigate the 'randomness'- they limit their losses (which are inevitable) and capitalize on the strong hands.
Luck is an undeniable factor in poker but so is skill.
Random is a word we use to define the connecting of dots that we can not see. If you know all available information you will see there is no such thing as true random but rather probability being perceived as random. Even as an 80% favorite you will/should lose 1 out of 5 times. It is better to understand the math than to chalk it up to randomness.
It is difficult to explain something to an ignorant person, you need to go too deep, a person to whom you explain in a bistro will lose the thread of arguments, so I would not waste my energy, my explanation: everything is difficult and not easy.
I would say it's difficult to explain the randomness of the deck. If it's someone totally unfamiliar with Poker you could start by explaining that only one deck is used in each hand, then explain the number of players typically in a hand and go from there.
However, I'd prefer an analogy with a game most people know well, Chess.
You can explain that Chess is a game of complete information: you can see all the pieces on the board.
Poker is a game of incomplete information: you do not know the run-out or your opponents' cards.
The game decision tree in Chess seems endless, but in fact has been solved by computers. Poker's decision tree is much larger, especially when you factor in stack sizes, multi-table tournament structures, PKO formats etc.
The huge number of permuatations are what gives the 'randomness'.
Despite this, there is skill and mathematics involved in calculating equities and this is what I would stress to a layman. Poker is often misunderstood as a game of chance simply because it's a card game and played in a casino etc.