The day following the Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse race in Australia, I began thinking about gambling and whether or not poker is considered to be a form of it.

Even though I travel to the event once every year, this horse race still stirs excitement. While I do enjoy myself, I am still stickler for keeping a close eye on my spending and I do not think it is necessary to regularly gamble on horse races. It is my belief that one has more control whenever they are in a position that will help them win big and when the outcome can be dictated. This is simply not the case when it comes to horse racing.

During the Melbourne Cup, I observed friends as well as strangers fork over their hard-earned dollars out of fun and on the chance that they would turn a profit. Although some of these people probably believed their bet was “a sure thing,” the fact is that this statement can never be spoken in true confidence.

For quite a few years, the shortest favorite of the race was So You Think; however, this horse never won despite the fact that people claimed it was the best horse since the days of Pharlap. Although the whole nation put its hopes on this horse, it just could not live up to the hype; it ended up coming in at a disappointing third place.

This brings me back to the thought of whether or not poker is an actual gambling game. I feel that poker as well as blackjack, craps and roulette are all forms of gambling. While some players insist that their card counting and strategies are top-notch, these games still hold a losing risk for all who play.

Of course, the ability to reduce the involved risks is dependent on the player’s experience, ability and knowledge. And the only way to lower the risk is by learning the ins and outs of the game. Even though luck is always a factor in poker, bluffing, reading players and knowing the opponent are all key elements that make poker not only a gambling game but also an art form or even a profession.

If a player studies up and learns what there is to know about this exciting game, poker will become less of a type of gambling. The option to gamble and the power to learn is all up to the individual player. Once the gambling aspect of poker is taken away, the results can be seen.