In its online form, poker is not so much about getting together with friends for a weekly game. It’s about being available to anyone to play 24/7.
In the Internet version of poker, players can play Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Stud, anytime they want to in the comfort of their own home or even while at work. Many sites offer the player an option to start out playing for free or even give them a small deposit to start out with and then entice the player to continue. A typical poker website will offer bonuses and it is not unusual to see tournament prizes for 6 figure sums. Little, if any emphasis is about the social aspects of playing poker with friends. It is not about getting together with the gang for a night of fun. It’s about trying to win money — it is pure gambling.
Online poker players sit at home alone hoping they may be the best player sitting at their particular virtual table. Some will lose and not be persuaded to return –although once the site has their personal info they will be relentless in trying to get the potential poker lover to return. Others will be easily persuaded to keep on trying. Bonuses, occasional wins, all sorts of enticements are built into the system so that once they do succeed to get someone in, it will be very tempting to continue playing. Internet poker can easily turn to a gambling addiction.
Poker sites are more of a problem than brick and mortar casinos because of several factors:
- A person may not feel they are actually playing with real money because they are using a credit card.
- It is available around the clock and you can risk much larger amounts.
No one knows the person is playing poker– they may look like they are working, playing, studying . . .
- Online poker sites require visitors to be over 18, but have no real way of checking a visitor’s age.
- There is no social element and no buddy sitting next to you to tell you when it is time to stop or make it a night.
So what is the solution?
Well, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) made most forms of Internet gambling illegal in the US. However, there are still online poker sites available and Americans still have access to many types of betting websites. If you are addicted to Internet poker or have loved ones playing poker online, consider installing a filter to block poker sites from all home computers. By blocking poker sites, the temptation is removed. Further, if children do not have any access to begin with, they don’t even become aware of the opportunity to play poker online for money until they are older and better decision makers.