On the Rise and Rise of Poker
A few nights ago I found myself watching a poker tournament on TV. This didn’t make a huge lot of sense to me. but it was an interesting thing to be able to reflect upon. I don’t know about you but Poker is something that seems to be undergoing a big renaissance right now, and has been since before the recession.
I’m not one of those people who thinks that gambling is inherently a problem. There seems to be quite developed line that gambling provides “something for nothing” and that this is somehow wrong. As someone who believes we should always be kind and give joyfully, I don’t have this problem, and in fact, I find it rather worrying. After all, I suspect when the disciples pulled a silver coin from the mouth of a fish, they felt a bit like they’d been blessed with a win!
But the harm that gambling does is quite ridiculous – it doesn’t seem possible to have gambling without someone getting sucked into a vicious cycle of determination to do what is arithmetically and deliberately very nearly impossible: earn vast fortunes.
I’m not necessarily against the National Lottery, because that at least has a logical end point: you pay £1 a week. Yes, some people pay in much more, but my understanding is that most of those still attempting it just put in the £1. With poker now readily available in pubs and, perhaps worst of all, online, its much easier for people to spend, and lose, huge amounts.
But the whole thing seems to have suddenly taken off. Poker-fever has gripped the nation and invites to play “Texas Hold’em” (whatever that means) are as likely to emanate from Facebook Apps as they are from Facebook Events, banner ads and pub posters. Its starting to worry me a little, as I begin to wonder whether the bubble will burst, and lots of people find themselves getting into serious trouble, more desperate and more convinced of the need to keep playing, not realising how much addiction and the attached problems have caught up with them.
This doesn’t mean to say that I find myself wanting to ban poker outright, but I think there’s something quite worrying going on, and it would be a good idea to keep an eye open for the first signs people are beginning to crack. As I said, I dislike the kind of “Gambling as a Mechanic is Evil” kind of outlook, as it kind of gets all tied up in a very calvinist/protestant-workerist kind of logic, which doesn’t do us many favours. But when people are able to sit and watch people “earning” thousands of pounds on TV through playing this game, one has to wonder where it will all stop.