People often debate the question of backgammon – luck or skill? The answer is simple: the closer the players are in ability, the more luck there is. In fact, if you take two players of identical skill level, it’s all luck!
Take two backgammon players where one is slightly better, the slightly better will win slightly more games. And take two players where one is very much better, the better player will win very much of the time.
Until the invention of the bots, particularly Snowie, there was no way to really measure how much luckier one player is than other. Snowie measures luck on every roll and reports which player got luckier and by how much. While some debate the accuracy of Snowie’s measurements, most agree that it is a reasonable measure of luck as it rates each player’s roll based on how much the roll improved his odds of winning the game or match.
I have studied many matches in Snowie, and I have found it to be quite consistent relative to the results. The luckier player will often be the one who won the match, but only if he is not significantly outplayed by his opponent. I have seen, generally, that an expert player will often beat an average player, regardless of luck. I have also seen that when two players who are relatively equal in skill backgammon play, it’s almost always the luckier player that wins.
The most misleading thing about luck is that better players usually are luckier. And the reason is this: the better you play, the more good rolls you are likely to get, and the worse you play, the more good rolls there are for your opponent. So if you’re one of those people who always thinks he has bad luck, the odds are it’s because you are playing worse than your opponent.
The conclusion is that yes, there is luck in backgammon, but in the long run, skill wins out. In the short run, anyone can win, and that’s one of the things that makes the game more fun.