Poker is an exhilarating, life-long hobby that should be practiced in a measured manner. Poker doesn't have to be (nor should it be) about big money. And it shouldn't ever represent a hazard to your health or your family's well-being.
Here at PokerJunkie we're committed to encouraging responsible gambling and ensuring anyone who feels they may have an issue with problem gambling can find the help they need.
Excessive gaming may result in gambling addiction, asocial behaviours or losing money you can't afford to lose. We urge all online poker players to play with caution and avoid online poker's possible pitfalls.
If you do feel you may have an issue with problem gambling, below we'll provide a list of problem gambling hotlines and some tools and resources you can use to help you on the road back to responsible gambling.
Problem Gambling Hotline - US & Canada
The National Council on Problem Gambling operates a network of call centers and provides problem gambling referrals for gamblers across the entire United States, Canada and the US Virgin Islands.
Help in the form of live chat, telephone chat and referral services is 100% confidential and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It can provide services for people via mobile text as well.
Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700
Problem Gambling Helpline - UK
In the UK the National Gambling Helpline is available from 8 am to midnight, 7 days a week at 0808 8020 133.
Frontline GamCare Advisers will listen to your concerns and can immediately put you in touch with a trained counsellor for a face-to-face meeting or a phone call. All interaction and advice is entirely confidential information.
The GamCare NetLine also provides an online text ‘chat’ service for phones, tablets or computers. Treatment services are free for anyone over 16 in England, Scotland and Wales.
Problem Gambling Helpline - Australia
The Gambling Helpline number in Australia is 1-800-858-858 and is accessible 24 hours a day. Information and self-help tools to help alleviate problem gambling is provided confidentially to anyone in need.
Some Problem Gambling Signs
For some players it can be hard to decipher if and when gambling has become a problem. There are obviously different lines to cross for different people but there are some general questions (provided by Responsible Gambling associations) you can ask yourself to see if your gambling might have gone too far.
- Do you spend time thinking about gambling or planning a gambling activity?
- Do you need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to feel excited?
- Do you feel irritable or restless when you try to limit your gambling?
- Has gambling ever interfered with your work, school or any of your relationships?
- Do you ever feel anxious, sad or guilty about your gambling?
- Do you gamble until all your money is gone?
- Have you ever gambled with money that wasn't yours or was borrowed specifically to gamble?
- Have you ever gambled because you were bored?
If you answered yes to any of these questions it may be time to invest further in speaking with someone about problem gambling. Seeking help from family or friends is a great start but consulting someone with a trained background for professional help is essential to fully eliminating problem behaviours and getting back to proper health.
Reminder, help is provided free of charge at the services listed above and is available 24 hours a day in most cases. Before you make the next bet, make the call.
How Can I Begin to Solve a Gambling Problem?
While it may have begun to feel hopeless to ever turn things around it's never too late to seek help for problem gambling. The first step, in fact, is even just considering your gambling habits to be problematic.
While gambling problems can come in many shapes and forms and to various extremes, for gambling to be considered "problematic" it only has to affect your life or those around you in a marginally negative way.
Once you recognize that your gambling is having a negative affect you can begin to make the mental adjustments needed to start changing your behaviour right away. Remember:
- You must make a decision to gamble - it doesn't just happen
- Gambling requires money, time and a game to gamble on
If you can remove any or all of the catalysts to begin gambling it can help start the process to recovery. Here are a few recommendations for all players on how to gamble more responsibly.
- Never play drunk. When you come home from a few rounds with your friends it's very tempting to sit down and play a little online. This is never a good idea.
- Never play tired. Poker requires a lot of levelheaded thinking. This is not what you'll be doing if you're tired.
- Never play angry. You cannot get back at the jerk in the office by losing your rent money playing online. Might as well not even try.
- Never play sad. When you feel sad, you'll evaluate reality with a bias. Every flop will look terrible and opponents always hold monsters. Even worse, you may get an urge to hurt yourself by throwing away money.
- Never risk money you need. If you play with money that you cannot do without, you're making a bad decisions and you will continue to make bad decisions in the game. You'll accelerate the process of losing the very money you need most.
- Never play under age. It goes without saying you shouldn't play poker or gamble anywhere, live or online, until you're of legal age in the country you live in. Put away dad's credit card before you ruin your life.
- Take regular breaks. Taking a five minute break every hour will set your priorities straight. Assess how you feel and what your game's like. If all's well, by all means sit down and play again. Until next break, that is.
- Set your limits. Decide beforehand how much you're allowed to lose and how long you'll be playing. Some poker sites allow you to set your own limits to your play, such as a maximum deposit per day or maximum wager per day. Use them. If you feel that you can't quit when you should, tell the poker room to block you for a period of time. They do this.
Help for Problem Gambling is Out There
If you or someone you know have a problem with gambling, there's help to get from people who know what it means to have a gaming problem. If you need help or just want to talk to someone, Poker Junkie recommends you to get in touch with one of the Problem Gambling hotlines listed above.
It's always 100% confidential, judgment-free and entirely committed to giving you the tools you need to change your situation for the better. Don't miss out on the opportunity to change your life.