Is Online Poker an Addiction? Why It’s Not That Bad

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When I first started playing online poker I used to talk about it with other random non-poker players all the time. I used to bring it up with my cousins, co-workers, and friends every chance I got, and I explained how poker isn’t like regular gambling games at the casino because poker is a game of skill, and you can win money consistently over the long term if you know what you’re doing. Nowadays I won’t talk about it anymore, and I’ll tell you why.

Why I don’t tell people I play poker:

People who don’t play poker will never understand it. They will say and ask questions so ignorant and stupid it will make your head explode. 

When I talked about it with them they stare at me with this look that says “I feel sorry for your addiction.” I can tell them about my win rate and how I’ve been consistently winning for a few years, then they ask me questions like “but how much are you losing?”  And the way they say it, it’s like they’ve “heard it all” and I’m just another sucker ass gambling addicted bum who’s deluded.

This video is a perfect illustration of why I don’t tell people I play poker anymore.

So is online poker an addiction?

Let me start by answering the “but how much are you losing?” question. This question usually follows after I tell people I’ve made an X amount of money within an X amount of time. The answer is… If I’m winning an X amount, then I didn’t lose anything! Why is it so hard for you people to understand? I didn’t lose like $1000 and then win back $100 and tell you about the $100! oh my god…

Then they’d tell me I have a gambling problem, an addiction. Well, I do play online poker a lot, sometimes for up to 8 hours a day. In my opinion yes, I am addicted to making money in general and thus online poker. But it’s not a gambling “problem” per se, because it’s only a problem if you’re losing money you can’t afford to lose. It’s not a problem because I’m playing with a winning strategy, and cause I love the game and I’m actually earning extra cash online.

Poker VS Gambling

Look, I understand that that large majority of people who play casino games lose money in the long run. I don’t delude myself into thinking there’s some magical “system” that only I know of. But poker is a skill game and this is well known to most people who play poker. You play other players and make decisions that have a positive expected value, it is a business, you only invest your money (chips) when you know you have an edge. In order for you to win long term, you have to consistently play against bad players who make bad decisions. Their bad decision =  your profit. Once you know what you’re doing, it’s really not a gamble at all. If you only play against players you have a 60/40 edge over, would you say it’s gambling to put your money in those games?

For players that are more skilled than their opponents, they are going to be making much better decisions, they will always win in the long run. The skill comes from being able to read a situation and make the best decisions based off of the player’s knowledge of odds and psychology, as well as the ability to read your opponent’s playing style and adjust your own style accordingly to exploit them.

Final Thoughts

If someone were to be spending their whole paycheck at the casino month after month losing it to poker, then yes, sounds like an addiction and a serious gambling problem.

So in conclusion, poker is a game where you can become addicted and problematic, but it’s also a skill game and so good players can beat the game in the long run, and in my opinion if only a problem if you’re losing. So to me is online poker an addiction? An addiction to making money, hell yeah. But a problem? I don’t think so. 

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