PokerJunkie > Blog > Poker and society > ABC News: You’re Confusing Poker with Gambling

ABC News: You’re Confusing Poker with Gambling

25 August 2010, By: Charlie River

In a recent article on ABC News about young online poker players, this passage strikes me as being totally out of context:

“A recent national study … estimated over 70 percent of [young] Americans … have gambled in the past year. Researchers at University of California-Berkeley also found … that 19.6 percent of young men gamble online regularly.”

While that’s interesting, what’s it got to do with poker?

The definition of gambling

One may say that there’s an element of gambling in poker, but poker is not gambling.

If by “gambling” you mean risking money on an uncertain outcome, then there’s an element of gambling in poker. Most of the time you're unsure of the opponent's hand. You have to work with what little information you have.

But with this definition, there’s an element of gambling in any business venture. Not to mention any financial investment.

What’s more: with this definition, there’s an element of gambling in life as such. You almost never have complete knowledge about anything, and yet you’re constantly making choices.

In life’s big decisions, you can only go with what little you know and hope for the best. Money is at stake, and then some. Does this make you a gambler?

Poker modeling life

In fact, it’s this analogy that makes poker such an instructive game. It has been said many times that poker mimics life. Or, at least it mimics the requirement to act on incomplete knowledge which characterizes the human condition.

I think the mother of one young internet pro says it better than I can:

“I'm proud of him. It's not something everyone can do. I think it's an honest living. He's working hard at it.”

True risks of poker

It’s true that you can lose a lot of money playing poker if you’re not careful. Very few can play online poker and make a profit over time. It’s also true that you can develop an addiction to online poker. These are real problems.

But again, they are not unique to poker. And they don’t turn poker into gambling. What happened with getting the concepts right before making a statement?

In the US and all over the world, political forces are trying to prohibit online poker. All the time they’re referring to the hazards of gambling. Which, as we’ve seen, are irrelevant to the issue at matter.

I like the German saying: “God, please let it rain brains.”

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