Gus Hansen is famous for making his name as a top professional backgammon player before turning his attention to high stakes poker. Other poker greats like Dan Harrington and Howard Lederer are also skilled backgammon players.
What’s the connection between poker and backgammon? There are actually quite a few.
Luck Vs. Skill
One of the clearest similarities between poker and backgammon is the interplay of luck and skill. In backgammon, the randomizing element is dice. In poker, of course, it is cards.
Both of these things give the impression that poker and backgammon are games of luck, subjecting players to the whims of the cards or dice. Professionals capitalize on this impression.
Both backgammon and poker players are well versed in theories that tell them the correct ways to respond to a wide variety of randomized situations. This knowledge and experience enables them to get the better of less skilled opponents, regardless of the luck factor.
Complete Vs. Incomplete Information
Both chess and backgammon are games of complete information, that is, each player can see exactly what the opponent’s position is. Poker is not.
In poker, the opponent’s cards are hidden. However, based on the action, a poker player can make good assumptions about what an opponent might hold. Similarly, a backgammon player can generate a range of possible moves his opponent might make given the different numbers he might roll.
Both poker and backgammon are very much games of gambling online. Poker cannot be played without the use of chips or cash as betting tokens.
In backgammon, a key element of the game is the doubling cube. Game stakes are set beforehand, but at any time, a player may double, offering the opponent the option to either continue at double the stakes or resign. If doubled, the player who has been doubled then has control of the doubling cube and can double back at a key moment, making the gambling aspect of the game an important consideration in strategy.
While the rules and the form of the game are very different, many poker players will enjoy backgammon. The game can be played live and online and can be enjoyed anywhere one has an opponent and a backgammon set to play on.