Posted by: Mark Nielsen | December 14, 2008

The Turn, The River, …The Danger

I woke up last Wednesday morning and my six-year-old Graham was playing Poker on the computer. Texas Hold ‘Em. Six years old. It was sort of surreal. And even though no real money was changing hands, and I don’t think he actually knew how to play, I can’t help but be concerned.

It was a reminder to be watchful, ready to rein in habits that require a certain level of maturity.

I try not to sound alarmist, but I just don’t trust all the baldface capitalists out there. Someone, somewhere MUST be thinking of this kind of freeware game, plus increased television coverage of the poker tournaments, as a subtle training ground for the next generation of suckers. Without a more active parental role, what’s to stop a gradual move from pretend gambling, to real gambling, to possible (some would say inevitable) gambling addiction?

Though majority opinion has shifted in the past fifty years, making gambling socially acceptable, I don’t actually think gambling is the value-neutral interchange politicians and casinos would have us believe. Too many families are ruined by problem gamblers. (My late father was one, so I saw the problems firsthand.) Too many douchebags like Donald Trump are allowed to pad their wallets still more. And too many Indian reservations and veritable ghost towns like Gary, Indiana have become unhealthily dependent on casinos as the only employer in town. It’s an exploitive industry on many levels, no matter how family-friendly they try to convince us they are.

I have to offer a disclaimer, though:
I confess that I have gambled, in casinos, at horses, and in pick-up poker games with friends, and I find all of these to be quite fun. It’s a rush, precisely because there are real, measurable stakes involved. That’s also why it’s addictive. The drama of winning and losing at the tables has psychological and even physical consequences.

I’d launch into my usual rant against the lotteries now (they’re a “poor tax”, etc.), but I already sound too much like a crochety old lady today as it is.



  1. What you say is correct and there should be tighter control to stop young ones playing real poker. I play poker and its the only gambling i do, i am not the greatest player in the world but i do win my fair share. I rather play poker then bet on horses or play in casinos becasue casinos ARE rigged and horses is too much of a gamble for me. I like to be in control of what i bet and what i bet on. So texas holde em is my drug lol well fun drug, i know when to stop. But it sure does have the ability of becoming a very unhealty and bad finaianl addication for some.So far i have only desposited around $150 which i lost so i decided never to desposit again and rather let the poker rooms pay me to play a there rooms 🙂 Click my name if you want to see a list of free poker cash offers.

    I hope to god that obama doesn’t ban poker becasue thats the vibe im getting from him. He will be a great presdient but it will not suprise me if he ban’s poker, i dont care if ban’s the online casino’s becasue they are a bunch of robbers who should be locked up. Sorry for rambleing but online casino’s really annoy me, poker rooms arent that bad. If your interested in playing real money poker without despositing then save your money and click my name for my website.


  2. I debated deleting the “free poker cash” comment, but decided that would be gutless, even though folks like him (or her, though I doubt it’s a woman) are mostly part of the problem. The main point I was trying to make is that we are all “young ones” when it comes to gambling. It activates a spiritually immature part of our psyche, one focused on the thrill, or the money, or something else that’s potentially destructive. I’m not usually the type to advocate bans, but realistically, many people are not mature/secure/adult enough to control themselves over the long haul and not let it become a problem. So abstinence, for a certain type of personality, may be the only safe option.

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