Games of Skill VS Games of Chance: The Differences

Games of Skill VS Games of Chance: The Differences

Playing games of one form or another for entertainment purposes has been a part of human culture since the first societies were formed. Our basic needs like food, shelter, and companionship were taken care of first, then the minds of the earliest humans turned towards how to occupy the time they had left in an interesting way. The first traces of games played by humans were found in Europe and dated back to the Bronze Age. Since then, people have played games on boards, in the dirt, with balls and goals. Games were divided into two categories early on: games of skill and games of chance. Games of skill required the players to practice their moves or mental strategies, while games of chance left the results entirely up to luck. We see these same differences today in each different poker variant (skill with a little luck) and games like Roulette (completely luck).

Let’s take a look at all the differences between games of skill and chance, how each is approached, and a few examples of each kind of game.


A game of skill is one that relies on the player’s mental or physical level of expertise instead of wherever the ball or game piece may happen to land. Skilled players far more easily control a game of skill as they understand what action will be followed by what reaction. Players are able to explore their capabilities, test their skills, and learn new skills to improve their chances of winning. The better an understanding of the game all the players have, the better grasp of the intricacies of the rules, and the better they can use them to their own advantage and hone their skills in accordance. Players must strategize to get a leg up over their competition; this means forward thinking and lots of planning ahead, taking into account all the possible plays that opponents could make. Games of skill require players or participants to spend a long time perfecting their skills; athletes, chess players, and esports players alike.


Here, you best hope that lady luck is on your side! Games of chance cannot be controlled by any skill that you might possess. A game of chance relies solely on luck or happenstance for its results. Think of Roulette as a good example. No amount of hope or wishing will alter the course that weight and gravity set for the ball to take. As the old saying goes, you could load the ball or the dice, but cheaters never prosper. The only way to predict the outcome of a game of chance is to work with probability theory or to rig the game and cheat to get the outcome you want. Chance could be altered by the wind speed, the amount of drag you produce (though these can be offset by skill), how hard dice are thrown, the order that a pack of cards is shuffled, or the day of the week.

Games of Skill and Chance

Some games have elements of both skill and chance. Take poker, for example. You cannot control the cards you are dealt; that is purely chance. Your skill and mental acuity must be harnessed to make the most of those cards, to use them in a way that will most likely lead you to a win. Most games are like this, even sports. For example, in football or soccer, the start of the game is influenced by chance; the coin flip determines which team will begin. After that, it is up to the players and their skills to take control of the game. One could argue that every game in existence is a game of both skill and chance because there are so many factors that human beings can’t control. Many of these factors influence games of skill in such a small way that we mitigate and offset them and call it a day.


Games of Skill:

  • Chess
  • Darts
  • Esports
  • Athletics

Games of Chance:

  • Pinball
  • Roulette

Games of Both Chance and Skill:

  • Poker

Wrap Up

Whatever your preference when you play games for entertainment, games of skill, chance, or both, remember that a game is just a game! What matters is thoroughly enjoying yourself when you play and doing your best.

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