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Poker News | Online Poker | News

Poker Plus - Who is Responsible?

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Listen to people from the old school and you will learn a few things, one of which is about responsibility. Back in the day, those more rational days gone by, people knew they were responsible for their own actions. If you messed up, it was up to you to fix it. If you got in trouble, you took the blame, fessed up and paid the price. When did we lose this concept that we alone are responsible for what we do, good or bad?

The fact is, not all gamblers, including poker players, are responsible people. In all factions of life, there are those who can’t admit any wrongdoing and must blame their plight on something or someone else. Maybe this dates back to childhood, when we tried to wiggle out of a butt whooping by blaming everything on our siblings. But, it may just stem from human nature that we don’t want to admit we did anything wrong, or couldn’t control our actions. People seem to have lost their personal sense of responsibility a long time ago when it came to gambling. Maybe the UIGEA has made it worse, but there are no government funded studies to confirm or deny it, so who knows.

One thing I feel strongly about is, we should be held accountable for what we do and the government should not be wielding their power to protect us from ourselves. We are adults, and as adults, we should have the freedom to decide what is best for us, as long as we are not hurting anyone. Playing poker online should be a personal choice, not something mandated by the powers that be. We can be just as good or bad, responsible or irresponsible, lose or win, just as much at the local casino as we can online.

Playing is playing and gambling is gambling,
what does it matter where we do it? If it is so bad, then the government should make it illegal everywhere, not just online. It is a ridiculous double standard that I will never understand. Then again, if it has to do with the government, it seems they go out of their way to do things that make no sense to the average person, but they outdid themselves this time with the UIGEA. It is obvious Uncle Sam thinks we are a bunch of idiots with no control, so he will control us, whether we need him to or not.

Not to say control is not a problem, it is, especially for some gamblers and poker players. I hate to lump poker players in the gamblers niche, as poker takes skill, something which you won’t find at a craps table or slot machine. For the sake of this line of thought on responsibility and control however, I will lump them for now.

When a gambler has no control, it leads to spiraling out of control gambling which adds up to huge loses. It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to know this will be a major problem, affecting all aspects of the gamblers life, even their very life itself. Yes, sadly, there is a very high rate of suicide among gamblers, who see no way out of the hole they allowed themselves to fall into, except the final escape. Thankfully there is hope for gamblers who are not just players, but addicts. Many programs like Gamblers Anonymous (GA) exist in every part of the world, and even online help groups are available. If you have a problem, the shame is not that you have an addiction; the shame is if you don’t admit it, and get the help you need to overcome it. This is true for all addicts; no matter if their drug of choice is the craps table or heroin, it is all the same, they have a monkey on their back that is bigger than they are. Play the odds, and the odds are you can’t cure your problem alone, but you don’t have to go it alone, get help.

Control and responsibility are not in the compulsive gambler’s vocabulary.
The principles simply do not exist anywhere that a gambler can access them, and can use them. They will find the money to feed their habit somewhere, friends and family first, and then when that well runs dry, they find other means, even if it is illegal. Many times when they lose, they find someone else to lay the blame on. It is much easier to blame something or someone else, like the casino, for letting them play and lose. No matter if you are a problem gambler or not, you are still responsible for your own actions and choices, you and you alone.

Recently I read a news story about a gambler in the UK which made me ponder the responsibility question. This fellow seemed to have a big problem with betting on sports, everything from horses to Rugby. He placed his bets through a betting chain to the tune of over two million pounds. Where he even got this kind of money was not mentioned of course, the story was about how he was suing the betting chain.

Mr. Irresponsible made a ridiculous statement in which he said "If I'd known I had the problem and didn't do anything about it, I would see myself as being 100 percent responsible. The fact is that I did try to go through the right procedures and I was let down."

His idea of the right procedures, turned out to be telling the betting chain to not let him place any more bets. This may have worked, if Mr. Irresponsible hadn’t then gone and opened yet another account with the betting chain, which of course, is also their fault. Now, he is putting the whole blame on them, all two million pounds worth.

Why should the business be responsible for his actions and his huge losses? Should they be held accountable because he is a compulsive gambler with no control? The fact is, he knew he had a problem and he did not do anything about it, at least not nearly enough. The UK has plenty of organizations to help people cure their addictions. This guy should have burned shoe leather to find one instead of beating a path to an attorney’s office. But then he wouldn’t have been able to try to make someone else pay for his mistakes, GA will help you quit, but they won’t pay your debts.

Being responsible and having control are key ingredients to being a successful poker player. If you cannot control how you play, your emotions, bankroll and time spent at the table, you will never be a winning player. Of all the problem gamblers I have known, very few only played poker and nothing else.

Studies have been done that proved the bad publicity about playing online which came out during the UIGEA, was just a bad rap for poker. There are not millions of college kids losing their tuition online, in fact there are hundreds actually paying for it by playing poker. Several have even moved up to the ranks of Pro, finding poker to be much more lucrative than a traditional career, after several years of cramming the books. Not that there are not poker players who play too much and have a gambling problem, there are. And you will frequently see them at the sports book, crap tables and slot machines because poker is not their big problem, gambling is.

Studies have also shown that people who suffer from depression are much more likely to gamble. Winning and losing feeds the depressed state of mind. They thrive on the highs from winning, but fall into severe depression when they lose. A good Doctor, and the right medication, can keep depression at bay, allowing the person to lead a normal life. I have seen the transformation in poker players who suffered depression and got help. They went from being the live-one, losing at every session, to being a consistent winner because their depression, and therefore their game, was under control.

Although no one should be responsible for your actions but you, if you feel you do have a problem, all sites will comply with a request to close your account. Of course you can still go back and open an account in your sister’s name, proving again, the responsibility for controlling yourself is ultimately up to you.

In almost every land based casino you enter, you will see signs for “responsible gaming” which urges anyone who has a problem to get help. They even have brochures and list help line phone numbers, making help easy to find, if you or someone you know needs it.

Like all things in life, moderation is the key. There are a million things out there that can be overdone and prove harmful to your lifestyle; drinking, eating and gambling are just an example. Just because you got tipsy New Year’s Eve doesn’t make you a problem drinker and playing poker a few times a week doesn’t mean you are a compulsive gambler. Be responsible and use control so you too can continue to enjoy the things you like to do, like playing poker online!

Grab a Chair…see you there!

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