Poker an engaging past time in moderation

Three percent to 4 percent of people nationwide have serious or pathological gambling problems.

Five-Card Draw. Seven-Card Stud. High-Low Chicago. Texas Hold’ Em. They all have something in common: All are poker games, and all have found a place at our fair university. The national poker craze has spawned enough interest in the game that it seems everyone on campus has a weekly “poker night” to attend. Students even flock to casinos and the Canterbury Card Club to try their hands against hard-core poker players.

Most students seem to have a realistic view of what a poker night should be. Many say the $10 or $20 they invest is just an alternative to going out to a bar or club, and even if they lose, it was money well-spent on a good time – and the chance to leave with more than they came with is a fair gamble. As long as this attitude prevails among University students, poker is an engaging way to spend time and have fun competing with friends.

Unfortunately, too much of a good thing is usually harmful. While only 3 percent to 4 percent of people nationwide have serious or pathological gambling problems, most high school students gamble by the time they are seniors, and few are educated about compulsive gambling problems. Men and children whose parents have had gambling problems seem to be more likely to gamble and develop their own problems.

Movies such as “Rounders” and “Ocean’s 11,” as well as ESPN’s “World Series of Poker” broadcasts and innumerable celebrity poker tournaments, have made poker fashionable.

Even University residence halls sanction the game: Pioneer Hall will host a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament Saturday, complete with prizes and open to 320 superblock residents. With no buy-in required, players who donate at least $10 will be eligible for prizes, and the proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House.

Charity-based poker tournaments are an excellent outlet for college gamblers. That is not to say students must avoid playing with their friends – they should just be aware of their habits and stay alert for warning signs of addiction, just like alcohol or drug abuse.

As long as poker gurus keep their just-for-fun attitudes, they can keep anteing up for classic card competition.