19 April 2006

Children and Poker: Findings

I'm normally a post daily kind of guy, but I got really busy the last couple days hopping to Raleigh. Didn't get to play Raymer heads-up (never heard from him, which I can understand his reluctance). Knocked out in third in a SNG when I had the chip lead, getting all our money in with the same villain on successive hands (he came over the top pre-flop with 5s6s to my QTo, catching his flush with trips kicker to my three pair; then I come over the top pre-flop with A3o to his Jd8d, which he flushes out on the flop). I had one of these stakes fraidy-scared sessions in the hotel where I didn't want to put too much at risk, just trying to eak out at least up $100 and get my Party bankroll over $4k. Got it to $3,985.31 playing PLHE $0.1/0.25 after getting up a bit in NLHE. I'm not sure why I didn't want to play at any significant stakes, but I feel fine dropping significantly down on occasion. I had everything I could have wanted as well: hotel room, TV, great internet connection, but for some reason I just didn't feel like jumping into a 10/20 table. Who knows.

This series is more difficult for me, maybe because I'm doing more legwork, I don't know. Some great comments on the initial post, so I really appreciate all of the perspective and experience. Please continue to chime in, as it really adds value for me as well as others.

First, some anecdotal information. Poker has taken the place of laser tag and dj's for many a young man's birthday party entertainment. For many teenagers, poker has become the Friday night alternative destination of choice rather than cruising or hitting some parking lot. As Lloyd Dobler said, "
If you guys know so much about women, how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?" Today, he might find these guys in someone's basement.
Just as ESPN and the Travel Channel originally sucked many of us in, it has provided a seductive invitation to America's youth. Tons of articles in popular press about youth and poker.
  • Today's youth are swept up by the glamorization of the game. Barry Shulman says poker offers teens five things: social interaction, especially for the socially awkward; help with math and other number-related skills, an understanding of risk/reward scenarios, lessons on how to read looks and gestures, and insights into your own limits of self-control. (USA Today)
  • "This is Cabbage Patch territory," says Scott Kling, VP of Sales and Marketing for US Playing Card Co. " Supermarkets are calling us, which they never did before." (USA Today)
  • The number of high school and college students calling gambling helplines in America has doubled in the past two years. "I have been in this field for 30 years, and I've never seen anything as crazy as this," said Ed Looney, who runs the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling. (The Observer)
  • Research by Professor Jeff Derevensky of McGill University's International Centre for Yough Gambling in Montreal found that teenage gamblers were almost three times as likely as adults to become addicted. "Adolescents tend to be impulsive and think of themselves as risk-takers. The adrenaline rush is there whether they are winning or losing." (The Observer)
  • The question is "Do young adults have the maturity to know if it's simply a hobby or an addiction?" University of Chicago child psychologist Dr. Bennett Leventhal has an opinion. "There are a great many concerns because of their tender age. First of all, they don't have the judgement. Second, in most cases it's not their money. But most importantly, they can be influenced by other people in wayst that adults usually cannot be influenced because of their maturity." (ABC7Chicago.com)

Some quick facts regarding children and gambling/poker.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Estimate of 2.9 mil young people gamble on cards weekly.
  • 37% of high school males play poker at least once per month, this jumps to 50% after high school
  • 14.0% of high school males play poker (vs. 1.6% of high school girls)
  • About 2.5% of males between 14-20 play online poker weekly
  • Four symptoms of problem gambling: preoccupation, over-spending, tolerance, and withdrawal (meaning pulling back from society, not cashing out). In 2004, 44.9% of young people who gambled weekly reported at least one of the problem symptoms. In 2005, this increased to 54.5%.
National Council on Problem Gambling
  • This is the first generation of kids to grow up with
    • Unprecedented levels of gambling (in 1976, less than a dozen states allowed gambling including lotteries; today, 48 states plus more than 250 tribes)
    • Pervasive promotion and marketing
    • High rates of implicit parental endorsement and social acceptance
Most everyone here shares an in-depth knowledge of poker, have seen the seductiveness and obsession risk up close and personal. For many of us, we are fathers and mothers or even aunts and uncles, trying to do the best we can at something few of us probably feel qualified to be doing: raising children. Sorry that this series is not nearly as elegant and fluid, but I've really had a difficult time putting my thoughts together on the matter. We'll see if I do a better job tomorrow. Again, please give your thoughts and opinions on the subject as alot of very valuable stuff.


Blogger Jestocost said...

There are a couple of ways I could look at this and I’m not sure either one is the right way. On the one hand, one could argue that there’s some kind of pervasive societal shift toward greater acceptance of gambling accompanied by increased marketing and other factors. On the other hand, one can embrace the “poker is a fad” theory.

In the former case the rising tide is lifting all boats and we inevitably will see more and more young people playing poker. In the latter, high school students are the faddiest of the faddies and will drop poker as fast as they picked it up once the next big thing comes along.

I tend to believe that both things are true. Gambling is more accepted and accessible than ever (at least in modern history) and, as a result, more people—including young people—will be playing poker and participating in other forms of gambling. However, there is undoubtedly a fad component to the extraordinary popularity of poker today and the segment of current players that are in the game for that reason will move on once something supplants poker as the happening pass time. There is a certain base that has been established and will remain—whether that’s 1/3, 2/3, 3/4 of today’s players I couldn’t tell you—and another group that will move on.

In the end, gambling is like many other things—drinking, sex, drugs, reckless driving—that irresistibly attract many kids. Some will become alcoholics or addicts, get pregnant or father a child, or die in a car crash. Others will become problem gamblers. The specific factors behind all of them are complex and different, but the all essentially are the same. As parents we can only teach our children to make good decisions, work with them to instill an understanding of the world around them and—in the end—put our trust in those efforts and pray for the best outcome.

1:43 PM  
Blogger WK said...

hey thanks for stopping by
you have a really good poker blog i've come across it before. keep up the good work!

2:15 PM  
Blogger Shep said...

CC you have asked me to let my son comment on some of you questions about poker. np.

let me give you a little background that he may not even know.(he will now)
It all started: his big brother and I always were very close (sports and stuff) and he was more of a mama's boy, when he turned 14 and we were playing around the table at home, I noticed he had a great grasp on the game and how to play it. I was impressed. Otis was having a game one week and I ask him if I could bring my son. We played 2 tournys and he took 2nd in the first and 1st in the other. from that time (for us) it has been a bonding experiance and we love to go together and play against each other.( you know male bonding, you will see and yours get older)
He is most repectfull to other players and has a unique keen sense for the game. He makes me proud and I hope it does him well. He knows that education is sooooo important and that poker is just part of what he likes. He wants to go to culinary school (like me) and become a chef!
he doesnt have the luck of CJ but can bluff with the best that G'vegas has of he may flop the nuts on you. Be carfull!!
I look forward to your future posts.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Shep said...

Are you going to make it to badbloods 38 b-day party saturday?? we would like you and your b- in law to come.

6:57 PM  
Blogger FatBaldGuy said...

I think the point about young people being susceptible to addictive behavior is very important here. Parental guidance is needed for young peole to avoid this kind of trap. Gambling is essentially no different than smoking or drinking in this sense.

11:52 AM  
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12:34 AM  

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