Luck versus Skill: Best Games Where Both Depend on the Player


We have all heard it – “you got lucky.” But did you, really? Winning the lottery with your birthday numbers is lucky – playing chess, not so much. Yet, both the lottery and chess are antipodes – the diametrical opposites of a “game.” 

One, the lottery, takes nothing but blind luck and begging of the fortunes. Chess on the other hand is down to each individual and you cannot blame a loss on bad luck. 

What if there were games that combine both luck and skill and we told you that both depended on an individual’s own perceptiveness and overall understanding of the subject matter. We will present to you several games that have both luck and skill involved, and will argue that no matter what the outcome, it will depend on you alone.

Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering is a fairly new game and concept – although trading card games have been around for many years, none has quite achieved the same level of recognition as Magic. The game is based on a fantastical world in which players create their personal decks that feature various monsters, spells, equipment, and resource cards.

Those are put to use when the players battle in a duel, using their own decks. Each turn, a player will draw a card and try to pull off a powerful combo that would leave their opponent the worse for it. 

Although the luck of the draw is clearly a thing in Magic: The Gathering, it’s always mitigated by your ability to build a good deck, your familiarity with your opponent’s deck, and overall understanding of the game’s mechanics.

It definitely is not easy and it takes commitment on your part, but the truth of the matter is that luck and skill mingle in Magic: The Gathering and what outcome you get will depend on your ability to read into the game. 


Perhaps no other game on this list goes as deeply into combining both skill and luck and putting the onus on you – the player – to figure out what to make of this. Poker is a game played with cards, and the luck of the draw will have a huge impact on what happens and how you can influence each play.

But poker is also a game of bigger strategy and a deeper understanding of its dynamic. You cannot simply hinge on a single card and hope to push it through. Similarly, you cannot play just strong cards, because if you do so – your opponents will know when to fold against you.

Therefore, poker is a game of an ever evolving dynamic where your personal skill and a bit of luck will definitely play a part. You can start honing your skills and understanding a little more about the skill factor by checking out first. 


Taboo is such a great game that players do not really care if it’s based on luck or skill. Yet, you can get lucky as you can show a lot of knowledge of the English language. Even then, though, vocabulary is not that it takes. Conveying information quickly and efficiently is definitely a skill that you can hone.

Although there is no great incentive in taboo other than the satisfaction of knowing things and proving to others that you know things, the game is a neat mix of skill and luck – getting the easier words for one. This means that although there are some situations that you will be struggling to score a point, you will gradually get much better with the game and rely on your own skill despite the skill factor.

Granted, Taboo is a leisurely game that does not quite strike players with the same level of competitiveness as poker or Magic, but all in all, you are in for a treat, and you can really make the most out of any situation by simply accepting that it’s not just about what word you will get to explain to your fellow players in this round.

Fantasy Sports 

Fantasy sports have been around for many years and in the absence of a fully regulated sports betting landscape – at least in the United States and until several years ago – the ecosystem has evolved. Daily fantasy sports definitely have the markings of a contest based in luck – and to a great extent this is the case precisely. After all, how can you know which quarterback in the National Football League would perform well this season and even if you did – what are the odds that the other players on your team would? 

There is a lot to fantasy sports that is based on luck, but also – skill. Reading into teams, their athletes, and creating a unique roster of your own are on the markings of a skill-based game, and this is precisely why despite its luck factor the game is also one where skill will play a role in the long run. 

Ultimately, you can influence how much you leave down to luck – do you pick a player who is showing some promise but has not yet established themselves, or are you going to go with the old-guard? It all requires a meticulous and exciting exercise of testing your own understanding of the game. Yet, make no mistake – this is skill, not just luck.

Leave a comment