A Pennsylvania resident whose main defense was that the game of poker is considered a game of skill was found guilty of illegal gaming on August 13th, 2009.
65 year-old Lawrence Burns was charged with 12 different illegal gaming misdemeanors in 2007 when law enforcers discovered that he had been running poker events at two local fire halls in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. Burns admitted to organizing the poker events, but argued before the court that it was not gambling because Texas Holdem poker is a game of skill.
Pennsylvania gaming law defines gambling as something where a monetary payment is made, there is the chance of a reward and the result is determined by luck or chance. Attorneys for Mr. Burns said that since the application of techniques improves your winning percentage in poker, it must be defined as a game of skill.
University of Denver professor Dr. Robert Hannum testified before the court that poker is not a game of luck referencing a computer simulation that showed skilled poker players winning 960 million times out of 1 billion over non-skilled poker players. Dr. Hannum also testified in a similar poker case in the state of Colorado where the accused was acquitted.
His testimony was subsequently dismissed by a higher court and that decision is currently being appealed before the Colorado state Supreme Court. Professor Matthew Rousso of Susquehanna University also testified in Burns' trial that poker is considered a game of skill.
After 2 hours of deliberation, a twelve-person jury disagreed, finding Burn guilty on all charges. The local district attorney stated that he would not seek jail time for the defendant and Burns is planning to appeal his conviction.