Gambling for Parnassah
I have friend who derives his income from playing Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. Is this permissible? Would it be completely permissible if he has another source of income? (Texas Hold ‘Em is a form of Poker where skill is a major factor, and one can be considered a skilled player.) Would there be a difference between a tournament and a cash game? A tournament is where each player pays a certain amount of money to buy a place in the game, and it is agreed that the winner gets x amount, 2nd place gets y amount etc. A cash game is where each player buys as many chips as he wants (each chip is worth a certain amount of money, chips simply take the place of currency) and his winnings are simply the amount of chips he has amassed by the end of the game.
Any form of income which comes from skilled work, and is not merely based on luck, would not violate the prohibition of gambling [mesachek b’kubya]. However it must be noted, that by no means is this a “kosher” means of making parnassah. At best, this is similar to the famous tshuvah of the Noda B’Yehuda, who after finding no technical prohibition with hunting for sport, still says it is a violation of Moshav Leitzim and the like. At worst, gambling is an activity known to be addictive, risky, and unhealthy in many ways, and has caused many to lose their fortunes, fall deeply in to debt and worse.