Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Teens Playing Poker

Will Teens Know When to Fold in the Popular Poker Craze?

Interesting article today in the Christian Science Monitor about more teens playing poker, which included lots of quotes from members of the National Council on Problem Gambling. Lots of hand wringing about what an awful effect the national popularity of poker is having on our youth. The article also mentioned that a lot of people seem to forget that poker (and gambling) can be an addictive behavior.

I have big problems with the whole 'addiction' mentality. There are so many organizations in existence right now who want to protect me from my own behavior that it's downright scary. I can understand a physical dependency on drugs or alcohol. I even understand that there is such a thing as compulsive behavior and mental illness. But there are far too many people in this world who like to over-indulge in whatever their vice is (be it sex, alcohol, drugs, or gambling) who want to blame it on some kind of illness.

This isn't a popular attitude to take, but I think people need to pull their acts together and start taking responsibility for their behaviors. We have a victim mentality in this country like never before. Heck, a woman is sueing Wal-mart because they sold her daughter a shotgun. Guess what! It's legal to buy a shotgun in the US, in spite of all the well-meaning but ill-advised attempts to stop such a thing.

It sounds like I'm rambling or ranting, and maybe I am, but gee whiz. We're talking about poker for goodness sake. It's not that big a deal. Yes it's a game of chance. Yes there's a skill element. But these people who want to prevent people from playing poker would be better off encouraging people to play poker better and stay away from lottery tickets. Lottery tickets are the real problem in this country--they're specifically aimed at lower income America, and they have a worse payback percentage than any other gambling game available. If you bought $1 million worth of lottery tickets, you'd have $500,000 in winnings the next day. If you reinvested that $500,000, you'd be left with $250,000. And if you kept that up for a full month, you'd have no money left before the month was out.

And people want to complain that poker is bad for kids? That it's going to lead to drinking and (heaven forbid!) sex...

People need to get real. Teens are going to do things. And sometimes they're going to do things like play poker or have a drink or get laid. Some of them will do it sooner, and some of them will do it later. Our job as a society, and as parents, should be to give them the real scoop on the possible consequences of their behaviors.

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