Friday, September 15, 2006

Is Poker a game or a gamble?

You KNOW it's a game and that it can be a gamble, right? So am I going to beat everybody up on the weekend about it? Uh, no.

But I will define gambling addictions for you and am suggesting that if you're thinking that one of your friends is gambling too much and is losing too much and is addicted, perhaps say something.

That's all. Just say something. Or if it's you, keep reading.

The people you know who are already at the stage where they gamble to win back their losses actually think that is the end of their gambling. At first. This is serious denial, of course.

If by some miracle they do gamble and make enough to pay off a mounting debt, there's still that little voice inside that nags and says, Heck! You're pretty darn good at this. You could make some serious money!

Then it's back to the drawing board. Or is it computer. Or boat. Track. What-ev.

Here are the signs of what we in the biz call Pathological Gambling:

Persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behavior that disrupts personal, family, or vocational pursuits. (We don't count it if the person is having a manic episode, see my post on bi-polar or uni-polar disorders in the archives).

The following symptoms are taken directly out of the DSM IV, the Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. I didn't make it up.

Preopccupation with gambling, either reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, or thiking of ways to get money with which to gamble.

Seeking "action", using more money, increasing bets, and taking greater risks to get a euphoric, high feeling.

Despite repeated efforts to control, cut back or stop, continued gambling.

Restlessness or irritability while trying to cut down or stop.

Escaping problems by gambling.

Gambling to get out of a bad mood.

Chasing losses with an urgent need to keep gambling to win back losses.

Lying to family, friends, or professionals about it.

Concealing the extent of the involvement in gambling.

Using forgery or fraud to cover losses.

Losing a job, a significant other, an education or career due to gambling.

Bailing out, turning to family to help when the situation gets desperate.

Sound like anyone you know?

Don't ignore it, confront and go with that person (or take yourself) to Gamblers Anonymous. Go more than once if you really care.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc


Anonymous said...

Do you think you could get addicted to "free" poker? I have a friend who is a part of a free poker league, and he plays every night. Sometimes he's out so late he doesn't go to work. He seems obsessed with winning.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: Sure you can get addicted to free poker. The same way you can get addicted to PS2 or Wii.

If it interferes with regular life, then it's a problem. Just not the same kind of problem that gambling and losing money is.

btw, I spend a lot of time playing, thinking, studying poker. It's my primary hobby right now, but I've spent similar time with other hobbies in the past. The difference with poker; it's self-funding. Other hobbies/passions cost money, my poker passion makes me money. But that's me, not 90-95% of players.


therapydoc said...

Right. I could have a whole center based solely upon Spider Solitaire.

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