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I Can Quit Any Time I Want

I lived with my older brother for three years after college. While he was making his way through the world of actual employment, I was a wayward law school student, finishing class at 1pm and sitting on my ass the rest of the day. It was during this time that I really took to poker. I had just watched my first WPT broadcast (my thoughts when I turned it on is, "Who would watch poker on television?!", but by the time I had to leave the apartment, I was setting up the VCR to catch the second hour), I had heard Howard Stern speaking about Golden Palace Poker, and I was starting to have friends over for $20 tournaments.

Once I started playing online, my play was nightly, and this went noticed by my brother. At my bachelor party in AC (where I spent more time in the Showboat poker room than anywhere else), he was kind enough to slip a Gam Anon pamphlet or three into my bag. When I wanted to discuss wins with my mother, I was conscious of the way I sounded, the excitement in my voice and the fear shared by my parents that I was going to leave the world of law after 7 years of school and become a gambling degenerate.

This morning, I was emailing back and forth with my brother when poker came up. I mentioned that wifey Kim wanted me to go to a private pool in NYC with her and her friend, but I had really just wanted to go to Nice Look for their 1/2 game that afternoon. This led to the natural jokes about being an addict, but when I reflected on the subject for a bit, I came to the complete realization that while I may have been somewhat addicted, those days are long gone. I now control the beast, rather than let it control me.

There is a thin line between interest and addiction. I love poker. Love it. If given the choice, I'd play it more often than not. I would even consider the fact that I used to be addicted to poker. But now, I've got it under control. In fact, in a certain way, I've gotten used to poker, and its less of the puppy love that I once had. You know the type. You meet a chick and she's just awesome. You want to spend every waking minute of your time with her. A few months later, you realize that she can sometimes be annoying. You still love her, but you've learned her flaws and some time away (not a lot, mind you, but some) can do both of you some good. You are still in love, but it is based less on that idealistic view you have of that person, and more on the actual qualities that you can appreciate. [Note: When discussing puppy love and so forth, don't read into it. I'm just giving an analogy.]

But, hey, don't all addicts start with denial? Just to make sure, let's take a look at some objective criteria to determine if I'm addicted to poker.

According to HelpGuide.org, which must be an altruistic organizations since they have "Help" in their name and have an "org" address (!), the following are the ten diagnostic criteria for determining gambling addiction, with my responses in bold brackets:

Five or more of these signs = pathological gambler
Three or four = problem gambler
One or two = “at risk” gambler

Under this rating system, I'm potentially a "problem gambler." Some of those yes'es though were borderline, so I'm not going to commit myself to an institution yet. Let's check another reference to really see how much of a degenerate I am.

Gamblers Anonymous offers twenty questions that will help you determine if you are addicted to gambling. Shall we? Let's:

  • Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling? [No. My 3k win just happened to be on a day I was staying home from work anyway. Oh wait. AC. Um, yes.]
  • Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy? [Hmm...I'm going to say yes, but those times are in the past. There was a point that I was playing too much and it was affecting my mood. I don't think it has affected my home life at all since I got married and then some (2 yrs+ probably), but the question asks 'ever'.]
  • Did gambling affect your reputation? [Only by making me more awesome!]
  • Have you ever felt remorse after gambling? [Yes. When I've played badly. Well documented, too.]
  • Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties? [Nope. Too anal retentive for that.]
  • Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency? [No and no.]
  • After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses? [No. I have a handle on chasing losses.]
  • After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more? [No. Not a strong urge. I've wanted to return, but that's natural. It was never anything more than, "This was a good session. I'm looking forward to the next one."]
  • Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone? [No.]
  • Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling? [No.]
  • Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling? [No.]
  • Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures? [Yes, but that is not a fair question. After all, the bankroll is to protect the money used for normal expenditures. This is more appropriate if I were a Roulette addict. Then, a bankroll is a fooking joke.]
  • Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family? [There was one time that I was playing an SNG and my bro slipped, hit his head on the corner of the coffee table and was lying next to me on the floor bleeding and passed out. I left him there unconscious for 20 minutes or so, but we were on the bubble and his distraction caused me to lose, so I'm still saying no...and he owes me $11.]
  • Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned? [Yes. Who hasn't? This is another stupid question.]
  • Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble? [No.]
  • Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling? [Aside from violating the UIGEA, nope.]
  • Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping? [Yes. This one is undoubtedly true. After the Mook 2nd place, I had trouble sleeping because I was going through the tourney in my head.]
  • Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble? [No, and if you keep picking on me, I'm going to punch you and then go bet on black.]
  • Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling? [Does my bachelor party count? I guess it does.]
  • Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling? [Of course not.]

According to Gamblers Anonymous, if you answer ‘yes’ to seven of more of these questions, you most likely have a compulsive gambling problem.

Shit. 7 exactly. Looks like I'm a "compulsive gambler", too now.

So, what have we learned. We learned that maybe I still am in denial. Or we learned that organizations like Gam Anon choose stupid questions that any gambler would say yes to in order to unfairly widen their definition of "compulsive gambling". I mean, by going to AC for my bachelor party starting on a Friday afternoon, I had to answer Yes to missing work for gambling and Yes for celebrating something with gambling. Or, I'm in denial.

So, are you addicted?

Until next time, make mine rehab!

posted by Jordan @ 10:45 AM,

7 Comments:

At 1:27 PM, Blogger 23skidoo said...

This is a tough one man. I've gone around and around with myself and my wife on this one.

I think I'm now entering a phase of 'functionally addicted' if there is such a thing.

I will definitely admit that I was obsessed in the past, playing 4-5nights a week till 3-4 o'clock in the morning.

Ditching work, check.
Borrowing money, check.
Other bad stuff I will not go on about...

Now it's different. Late last year I completely changed my outlook on Poker. I no longer care about results. I play for fun and with money that is within my budget.

I think gamblers reach one of three places.
Degenerate, Functional, and Reformed.

I'd like to believe, we as poker players, mostly reside in the second category.

I appreciate you bringing it up, I'd like to see an open an honest discussion on this topic.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

"...wifey Kim wanted me to go to a private pool in NYC with her and her friend..."

Did you go to the pool or the poker room?

Man, I think you are well under control. You take your job very seriously and you take your wife very seriously. When the need arises, you will even drop a tournament or cash game just to move on to whatever the next thing is wifey kim wants you to do. bottomline, i think you would hate it if you never played another hand of poker again, but you could move on if you had to.

That doesn't mean you want or need to do that obviously.

I could walk away right now, but I would not be happy about it...glad I don't have to make that decision...

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger oossuuu754 said...

Hi Jordan! and Welcome to the club!

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

I'm screwed whens our first meeting cause I"ll buy the drinks =)

 
At 8:40 PM, Blogger NewinNov said...

Nice post. I even did a reflection and think about it time and again. Guess I'm a functional.

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Anyone who plays long-term will be considered a "functional" gambler no matter how often they play or why they play.

In contrast, in order to be a "functional" alcoholic, a person needs to drink every day.

Food for thought.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger WillWonka said...

Nicely done.. I'm afraid to tally up my results... ah heck.. I'll do it anyway just to give fuel to the fire for my wife.

 

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