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Meditation upon poker craze

Discussion in 'Casinomeister's Poker Room' started by oldman, Feb 11, 2005.

    Feb 11, 2005
  1. oldman

    oldman Dormant account

    New York, man :)
    I like poker. Among all the hazardous assortment of entertainments I prefer Texas Holdem. I recommend some friends of mine to learn the game if they dont play it. Just recommend. Well, maybe sometime I kinda try to persuade them in the fact what a revelation the game is indeed. Some of them get involved and like it. Some of us are even passionate about it. We play at someones homes during weekend meetings, we often play online. But we always are alert not to get teenagers around.
    And now this craze with poker popularization campaign throughout the U.S (and the world actually). I just cannot tolerate it. Gambling is addictive, its the fact. And still it looks like nobody takes this issue into account. What about all the kids (10-17 years old) who get under the influence of all the gambling ad? Isnt it a trivial hypocrisy of the whole society to give a green light for such an addictive temptation and then to present statistics regarding youngsters who got addicted? And then to pretend to be deeply concerned with such an awful situation
    I just have read the article written by Aaron Zundel from the Globe and want to quote some points.

    One can't turn on the T.V. anymore without surfing across some sort of poker programming-"World Poker Tour," "The World Series of Poker," and "Celebrity Poker Showdown," just to name a few. But the smorgasbord of poker obsession is not just limited to the idiot box, every weekend local radio stations are promoting the next big tournament. Even SLCC campuses are not immune, just look on the pin-up board in any classroom.

    100 million people in the U.S. occasionally play poker, that's double from a year and a half ago.
    It's statistics like those that are making addiction experts brace for the worst. JoAnn White, a therapist who specializes in addiction, says, "Poker is the new rage among adolescents, and kids as young as nine are now playing. More than eight percent of new gamblers may end up having some type of gambling addiction, but we don't know how to identify them in advance."

    But college students need to watch out, too, says John Perovich, a psychologist who practices privately.

    Researchers in Germany announced that brain imaging scans have shown that gambling addiction is very similar to drug addiction in that it stimulates the same areas of the brain. Namely the region that signals reward. They conclude that a gambling addiction maybe just as hard to kick as addiction to hard drugs.

    :( :confused:
  2. Feb 11, 2005
  3. Mugwump

    Mugwump Dormant account

    You might want to check out Rick Reily's diatribe on the poker craze in Sports Illustrated last fall (october maybe?). I didn't agree with all of it, but he certainly raised a few good points, and so did you.

    Personally, I consider the issue of teens playing poker to be a mixed blessing. I think there are a number of benefits involved in teaching younger people to play poker that can alleviate the potential risk of gambling addiction.

    Poker is rather unique among gambling games in that it is a game of skill and strategy that invloves luck, rather than simply a game of luck. While there are others, the only other common game like this that comes to mind is backgammon. (although there are not that many places to play backgammon for $$$ in the US)

    I was 12 or so when I first learned to play poker for pennies while sitting around a kitchen table with relatives. I was taught the rules of the game, ranks of the hands, etc and set free. At the time, I loved games, including board-based wargames, rpg's, cards, chess...all of them. I played that night and never really gave the game a second thought. It seemed kind of pointless to me then. I played again 6 or 7 years later, and again, it didn't grab me.

    It wasn't until a few years ago when I read my first book on poker (something by Sklansky) that I began to understand how the game worked, and the intricacy of thought that was involved. With the proper background, poker became a lucrative and fascinating game.

    I was severely depressed then, not getting out of the house much, and sufferring from extreme self-confidence and self-esteem issues. I played for play money for a while, then made my first neteller deposit a few months later after I gained some confidence. I started out at nickle-dime stakes and $5 sit-and-gos, and progressively moved up to where I play now (up to 4-8, $30 sit-and-gos)

    Poker fullfilled a lot of needs for me at the time. It provided social interaction, competition, and mental exercise. It reinforced the benefits of patience, courage, and self-control. And of course, winning helped my self-esteem and provided the feelings of confidence and competence that I needed at the time. I absolutely believe that poker was a significant factor in relieving the depression, and saving my life.

    I think that poker, played correctly, is as mentally stimulating as any other game of skill. It reinforces basic math skills, and can build character and confidence in those teens who are not physical enough to play on the varsity team.

    I hosted a small home tourney last year, and one player brought his 16-year old cousin to the game. I was reticent about allowing an underage player, but decided that if it was ok with everyone else, and he had the $20 for the buy-in, it was ok by me. He wasn't going to lose more than $20, and could even win. Although he was relatively new to the game, he ended up winning 1st place, and everyone agreed that he played reasonably well (he made a couple of dubious calls, but won on them, so who am I to judge?). I did not the feeling afterwards that I had created some sort of gambling addict frankenstein.

    My local gaming store hosts tournaments for "magic: the gathering" and "yu-gi-oh" every friday and saturday. These tournaments usually have a $11 entry fee. The store keeps a dollar and puts the rest into a prize pool. The winner gets the prize pool's value in store credit. I regularly see kids as young as 8 or 9 playing. Is there really that much of a difference between playing a collectible card game for store credit and playing poker for a prize pool? I don't think so. In addition, how different is opening a $3 pack of random cards looking for a black lotus or whatever, from buying an instant lotto ticket. Some individual cards, after all, are sold for $100 or more on ebay.

    On the other hand, for some teens (and adults too), the risk of addiction is significant. In addiition, a majority players at the lower limits do not play well or even express interest in learning to play well. And I imagine that most teens playing poker have little to no understanding of some of the basic strategic principles of the game. I think this is very unfortunate for both the players involved (who will eventually get fleeced) and the long-term viability of this poker craze.

    As someone who is sensitive to the issues of mental illness and instability, I think it is dangerous that opportunity to gamble over the internet is so easy. I, personally, think that one of the solutions to this issue is the legalization of more forms of gambling, including poker, in communities across the united states. If it were easy for me to find a safe and secure poker room in my own community, I'd be far less inclined to play in the nameless and faceless world of the internet. And a licensed poker room or casino would have the responsibility of ensuring that those not of age are not allowed to play, I have never encountered a casino web site that had any kind of adequate age control, as anyone with a bank account can open a neteller account, and anyone with a neteller account can gamble.
  4. Feb 11, 2005
  5. Annorax

    Annorax Dormant account

    As a certified judge and tournament organizer for Magic: The Gathering, I'd like to clear up some of your information.

    Most reputable gaming stores run 100% payouts on their Magic and Yu-gi-oh tournaments because that is what most jurisdictions' laws require. $10+1 is quite rare, and if anything, higher level tourneys don't split it out like that. They just charge $20, $25, or whatever and give out the announced prizes, without giving anyone an indication of the profits being made. The vast majority of tournaments also pay out prizes to lower places, usually down to 8th depending on turnout. Magic is almost never played "winner takes all", just like you'd never expect to see a poker sit-and-go tournament where winner takes all.

    Opening a pack of cards is different from a lottery ticket in that a lottery ticket can pay off rewards far proportionately higher than a pack of cards can. Sure, you can open packs looking for a Black Lotus, but you're not going to make money doing it... they've been out of print for 10+ years and packs of Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited cost between $100 and $500. Add in the fact that 99% of all remaining packs have been searched, and that "gamble" becomes nothing more than a money sink. Current packs don't have cards that are worth nearly that much.. in fact, the highest priced non-foil card in Standard (the last two years' worth of cards) is only $15 at its highest price. Kids aren't opening packs looking for a Lotus or Mox anymore... they're opening packs looking for cards to play with. The gamble isn't there anymore... it's been replaced by a game with collectible pieces that hold their value, but don't return nearly as much on investment as a gamble.

    Gamblers play poker. Gamers play Magic. Some of us do both. Please don't paint Magic as gambling... it just isn't anymore.

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  6. Feb 12, 2005
  7. Mugwump

    Mugwump Dormant account

    Actually, I had rather hoped that there were few magic afficianados on this board as I did not want this to turn into a discussion of MTG. Therefore, I tried to keep my example simple so as not to bore those who didn't care about CCG's. But the point has been raised, so:

    1.) The gamestores around me do charge a minimal organizing fee for constructed deck games, and like you suggest, it is usually hidden. I've calculated it to be approximately 10+1 juding from # of competitors and prize pools. I, personally, do not have a big problem with this, as they provide a safe and relatively wholesome environment in which to play.

    2.) The tourneys around me tend to be small (15 ppl max), so its not unreasonable to do winner-take-all. The players themselves are allowed to make deals at the end, and it is traditional for the top 2 to do a 60-40 split.

    3.) Its been a while since I've played, but I do know that there were cards in Onslaught (polluted delta, mirari) series that were worth significant money, I just can't remember their names. Yes, these were cards that were rare, playable, and necessary in tournament quality decks. High demand = High Value.

    The last statement you make just isn't entirely fair...
    I was comparing poker to a game that I believe involves a similar set of skills. I was trying to make the point that poker is similar to games such as MTG and backgammon that involve both skill and luck. I was not trying to portray MTG as a gambling game, although it does have some elements of a gambling game. I know from watching and participating in the tourneys that the same players regularly win each week. Just as (moreso the case a few years ago, before the 'poker as lottery' playing style emerged, though its still true today) the same poker pros we see on tv end up consistently making the final tables each week.

    Poker is a game of skill involving money. Yes, an individual hand of poker involves a great deal of luck, but in the long term, you cannot win at poker without skill.

    Magic is a game of skill, but luck is also involved. Why else would you include as many of a critical and useful card as allowed, except to adjust your odds of drawing it. Probability plays a very important role in MTG.

    I personally believe that the teenagers playing the CCG's and winning have all the skills necessary to become sucessful online poker players, and if they are playing correctly (i.e. not 'maniacs', 'calling stations', or hopeless chasers) and are polite at the table, then I think should be glad they have an outlet for their competitive needs.

    If they are simply 'gambling' with no understanding of the theory behind the game, then there is a problem, and I don't doubt that a sizable number of them do play this way, which is unfortunate.

    Quite honestly though, I have seen young CCG players that I have been very worried about. The glazed look in their eyes as they open a new deck of cards is the same look I've seen in Vegas slot players.

    And the money involved in local magic tourneys is significant, and I've known several reasonably good, young, players who are well aware of it. The look at the tourneys run on a given night, and attend the one they feel has the most 'newbies' (i.e. fish) in it. And I do know a subset that play unlimited MTG amongst themselves for money (and significant money for their age ($50 or more) at that).

    I think part of the argument involves an understanding of what gambling is. If I find a video poker machine with a 102% payout schedule, and I am sufficiently bankrolled, am I really gambling? I think arguments could easily be made for both sides here.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2005
  8. Feb 12, 2005
  9. Mugwump

    Mugwump Dormant account

    I take it all back.

    I just got knocked out of a tourney in two hands. Both by a stupid #$#@$@! who was raising me all the way with weak hands and bad draws.

    Beat me 1st hand with 4 outs
    Beat me 2nd hand with 2

    4/46 * 2/46 = .00378

    Poker is a stupid #@$%$%@#$^%^$%^@$!@42314j game and should be illegal everywhere.

    At least until I get some sleep and calm down.

    Time to kill shit on the PS2.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2005
  10. Feb 14, 2005
  11. oldman

    oldman Dormant account

    New York, man :)

    "You might want to check out Rick Reily's diatribe on the poker craze in Sports Illustrated last fall (october maybe?)"

    where can I find that ?
    and thanx for the reply ;)
  12. Feb 15, 2005
  13. Mugwump

    Mugwump Dormant account

    There's an archive of his columns at their website. The article appeared on 10/18/04. Unfortunately, I think you have to subscribe to the web site to view archives :(.
    (You must register/login in order to see the link.)

    Otherwise your library might have old issues, or a friend who subscribes.

    I'm not much of a sports buff myself, but I always read Rick's column (last page of every issue, because I like his style and attitude.

    Nevermind, I just went to their website and hacked it using my roommate's subscription. I've attached a .txt version of the article for you
  14. Feb 15, 2005
  15. oldman

    oldman Dormant account

    New York, man :)
    Thanx once again, Mugwump. It was really sharp and straight... :cool: (I mean the article). I generally share his opinion on the issue. Just wonder why the publicity/authorities are that quiet... :what:

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