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A College Student’s Look at Poker

I woke up at 1:30 p.m. My mouth was dry, my room was a mess, and my head was pounding. When I looked into my wallet, I noticed there was significantly less money in it than I’d had the night before. As I stumbled over to the computer to browse the Internet, I couldn’t help but laugh at an article I found talking about the danger online poker poses to college students.

For ages, long before the revolutionary concept of online poker, college students have done a perfectly fine job at wasting their time and money.

The thing that people who are wary of the effect of online gambling on college students don’t realize is that it’s just like every other vice that tempts college students. If it isn’t done in moderation, then it can consume and destroy them.

The fact is that most male college students have probably lost some money playing online poker. Online Poker Rooms like Bodogpoker and Titan Poker are great for passing time away.  And there are a lot who have made money and continue do so, which allows them to avoid taking a mind-numbing job at the campus library. But putting that aside for a second, how much more money have college students blown on bar tabs, casual sports betting and other non-academic activities? My guess is that online poker doesn’t even come close to that.

Bars are far more destructive to college students than online poker. They are extremely costly, they’re filled with smoke, and cheap, fattening food is easily attainable. What do college students do when they aren’t at the bar and they don’t have anything due in the immediate future? They sit around and check their MySpace/Facebook, drink with their friends, play video games or watch television.

While those activities are totally mindless, poker can actually teach a lot of valuable lessons about discipline and money management. I’ll save my breath by just stating that poker is a game based predominately on skill. Anyone who says different is wrong, and will lose a lot of money.

By playing poker in our spare time (i.e., the time until we can procrastinate no longer) college students will learn that just like drinking, poker is best done in moderation. And by learning that having a casino in your dorm room can be as hard on your wallet as buying round after round for your friends can be, we’ll also learn to be careful with our cash.

There is no serious legislation threatening to shut down bars when college students get busted for drunk driving, so why should there be legislation against online poker just because a handful of students can’t treat it responsibly? College is a time where we are offered tons of freedom, and with that we must learn moderation. Those who can’t do that are doomed to begin with.

And don’t these online poker critics (a bunch of middle-aged sad-sacks going to “conventions” in Las Vegas) realize that lecturing against the evils of online gambling just makes us want to do it more? Chances are if people would just shut up about the “dangers” then it would become a little less fun, and a little less romantic.

The truth is that eliminating online poker from the college setting will not drastically improve student life. We’ll just find something less stimulating to waste our time and money on.

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