POKER on CAMPUS.Many regard online poker as yet another dangerous distraction for college students across the country. There have been a handful of horror stories about students who have lost their semester’s tuition money at online poker sites, others about students failing out of school because of the amount of time they’ve spent playing poker rather than studying and attending classes, and even one instance of a student robbing a bank to fund his poker habit. But these instances of course are the exception, not the norm. And as any University of Las Vegas student can tell you, a casino near campus is a distraction, but not one that ranks anywhere close to frat parties or the college bar scene.
What you never hear about are the students that actually win playing poker online. The fact is that you can play low stakes poker online for a few dollars an hour, and students, or anyone else, have the chance to win big. Don’t take my word for it, take the word of University of Massachusetts student Bryan W., who has paid off his entire college tuition bill playing poker online.
Bryan, a sophomore studying business at UMASS, plays poker from his dorm during his time between classes, playing basketball, socializing and taking in a few rounds of golf. Bryan plays at CelebPoker.com, a site which invites regular poker enthusiasts to play poker with the flock of famous actors that frequent the site. According to Bryan, its not the celebs that keep him playing on CelebPoker.com. For Bryan, the most important thing is that he estimates 40-60% of players see the flop, which translates into a site full of fish (inexperienced players).
What does experience gain you in poker? Pots: and pots mean money. For Bryan, his superior poker abilities and experiences have made him over $100,000 in the last three months. And while Bryan may be on a roll, in poker, the best player usually wins. Being the best is a combination of many things. First, you must have a solid knowledge of the game and the ability to focus while you play. After that, it’s a matter of playing at a level at which you can win. While Bryan may dominate the $5/$10 tables at CelebPoker, he may be the fish at a larger limit game frequented by players more experienced than him.
Today’s online players are gaining more experience in one year of online play than terrestrial players gain in a lifetime. That’s simply down to the fact that the online game is played much faster as the computer handles the dealer’s duties of shuffling and dealing cards in the blink of an eye. Then of course, all decisions online are made within a predetermined time limit, further increasing the pace of the play. This means that a computer savvy college student will have seen as many hands of poker in his first semester than many Vegas pros will see in a year.
As Bryan will attest, he is learning more than how to play a card game with his experiences online. Like Gin, poker is a mentally engaging game, honing skills of deduction, mathematics, memory and abstract thinking; skills that Bryan takes with him to the classroom. In fact, there is a controversy among many educators as to whether poker is harming students or helping them prepare for life. While no one argues that problem gambling is unacceptable, controlled poker play, like playing gin or chess, is often supported by on-campus poker and card clubs.
Elizabeth George, chief executive of the North American Training Institute, which specializes in dealing with problems of youth gambling, poker is the most popular form of gambling on college campuses today. And that’s not just online, student’s play in dorm rooms, off campus, and at the local casinos according to Dwight E. at the University of Miami. “Sure we play poker. We bet on U Miami football and NFL too. College isn’t a microcosm, students do the same things as everybody else in the real world,” said Dwight.
Poker is on campus and students are playing in huge numbers. Many of these players have their gambling under control but even online poker sites agree with that one problem gambler is too many. Several online gaming companies employ staffs that specialize in recognizing problem gamblers and are quick to offer help when a problem gambler is identified. This is the only way to curb problem gambling in a cyber-world; to utilize the technology and data available to help those in need in order to continue to offer a entertaining, stimulating and profitable (in Bryan’s case) product to the online community.