My Online Poker Addiction

My Online Poker Addiction

Prior to 2009 I had very little experience with gambling. This changed, however, when one night in early 2009 I was invited to play Texas hold’em poker with some friends. I had no idea what I was doing, and unsurprisingly came away little bit poorer (say $20). Despite this small loss my interest in poker was sparked.

In the middle of 2009 I was invited to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday in Las Vegas. While I had now read a couple of books on Texas hold’em, I had very little experience actually playing the game (just two subsequent occasions with the same friends). Not wanting to be seen as a donkey (that’s a poker term for a bad player) in Vegas, I decided to gain some experience by playing online.

While you can play online poker with pretend money, it is basically a waste of time because people don’t act as they do when real money is at stake. This hints at the major reason I enjoy poker – there is a good deal of psychology involved. Because poker is a game of incomplete information, players must make educated guesses as to what will happen next and what their opponents are holding.

After a month or two of regularly playing online poker, the time finally came to head to Vegas. I was the only person in our group interested in poker, so most of the gambling I did in the first night/ day was at the blackjack table. I didn’t have much luck playing blackjack, but I found it a fun and sociable game to play. On the second night I decided to split from my group and hit the poker tables solo.

The first sit-and-go tournament (that’s a one table tournament) I played was fairly uneventful and I was knocked out early on. The second tournament, however, was an experience I will never forget. I received some good hands, and every decision I made just seemed to turn out right. Gradually other people at the table were knocked out, until finally it was just myself and one other guy remaining. At this stage I was unbelievably excited; even if I didn’t win I was guaranteed a nice pay-out for second place. After a few hands of limited action I received Ace-Queen off-suit, a strong hand in heads up hold’em. My opponent liked his hand as well and we both ended up all-in pre-flop. When he turned over his cards I sighed; he had Ace-King off-suit meaning I was dominated and my chances of winning the hand were only around 24%. Thankfully, however, I caught a Queen on the flop and this was enough to win the hand. I had handed my opponent a bad beat, but I didn’t care; I had won in Vegas!

Initially I had started playing online poker to prepare for Vegas, but on returning home I found the game hard to give up. Almost every night after the kids had gone to bed I would play for 1-2 hours. While I was enjoying myself, I became aware that playing this much was having some negative consequences:

  1. It was annoying my wife (and as they say, “happy wife, happy life”).
  2. It was distracting me from activities I consider to have lasting value (eg maintaining this blog).
  3. While I was only playing after the kids were had gone to bed, I was so keen to start playing in the evening that I was less tolerant with the kids as I put them to bed. My older son Xavier (at the time around 2.5 years) could be particularly difficult, and I found myself frequently losing my cool with him.
  4. As I was going to bed later than normal, I was tired the next day and my work performance suffered.

I was aware of these negatives for awhile, but still I found it hard to stop playing. What finally did it was one night when I found myself back at a point where I had neither won nor lost money playing online poker over the preceding months. I realized I had nothing to show for all those nights I had stayed up late, staring at the computer screen. I subsequently cashed out (the site sent me a cheque in the mail) and then uninstalled the poker software from my computer.

Thoughts On Online Poker

I experienced the high of winning in Vegas and the low of a mild online poker addiction that was interfering with my life. So what do I think of gambling and, in particular, online poker? The following are some of my thoughts:

1. Online poker can be fun and exciting.

“The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil.” ~ Heywood Hale Broun

It is human nature to feel excited when taking risks and the positive feeling gained from gambling is no different. The sense of anticipation creates a natural high, an adrenalin rush, a feeling that very many of us seek when looking for fun and entertainment. Also, gambling provides an escape from everyday life.

2. Online poker can be addictive.

“You don’t gamble to win. You gamble so you can gamble the next day.” ~ Bert Ambrose

For many people gambling gets out of hand, resulting in a compulsive gambling problem. Compulsive gamblers are characterized by their inability to control their gambling urges to the point that all they think about is gambling and ways to support this habit.

Interestingly, as I was writing this article my blogging friend Daniel Richard sent me a copy of his first e-book, Breaking the Gambling Addiction. In the book Daniel tells of how winning his very first bet at the age of 16 led to a 5-year gambling addiction. This addiction escalated to the point where he was stealing from his employer to support his habit.

3. Online poker can cost you a lot of money.

“There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune: go there with a large one.” ~ Jack Yelton

This is not a problem I personally experienced, but it is obvious that gambling costs some people a lot of money. If gamblers start to losing they may keep spending more and more money in the hope that they will win again soon. Often this can result in them getting into debt in an attempt to win back the money they have lost.

4. Online poker can give you false hope.

“A gambler is nothing but a man who makes his living out of hope.”  ~ William Bolitho

In 2003 Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker. According to Wikipedia, this win “revolutionized poker because he was the first person to become a world champion by qualifying at an online poker site.” Since Chris’ win there have others just as Peter Eastgate (2008) and Joe Cada (2009) who have won the World Series of Poker after learning to play poker online. For their wins, Eastgate (22 at the time) and Cada (21 at the time) pocketed $9,152,416 and $8,546,435 respectively.

This clearly shows that some people make good money, strike it rich even, from gambling. However, such people are in the minority (just think, those millions have to come from somewhere). It follows, then, that for most people a hope to strike it rich playing poker will go unfulfilled.

5. Online poker can interfere with the important things in life.

“By gaming we lose both our time and treasure – two things most precious to the life of man.”  ~ Owen Felltham

The other day I was talking to a co-worker who plays online poker. He mentioned that many of his friends no longer play online. “Why?” I asked. “I guess they just have better things to do” he replied.

“Exactly” I thought.

Given that poker can be fun and exciting I’m ok with it playing it on the odd occasion. But it’s not an activity that nourishes (in fact, after a couple hours playing online I would often feel a certain emptiness). It doesn’t provide any lasting value (unless you win some serious coin, of course, but see my previous point about false hope). Instead I could be devoting my time to a legacy project – that is, creating something that will outlast me.  Doing something amazing. Something EPIC (as Daniel says in his e-book).

* * *

Epilogue: it’s now approximately 4 months since I uninstalled the poker software on my computer. Having not played for 3 months, a month ago I decided to re-install the software and play some poker. I was bored, and I guess I figured I was over my addiction. I played for a few hours over two nights, but I suffered some bad beats and just didn’t have the patience required to do well. I uninstalled the software again and decided to get on with my life.

These are my thoughts of online poker/ gambling. What are yours? I would be interested to hear your experiences and stories.

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.


  1. Congratulations on being able to get over that! I think that this entire website is amazing on all the things you’ve been able to change in your life, and I only hope I can begin to do some of these things. You’re pretty much my hero :)

    • For every mans dream made in poker their are far more ruined lives, i just lost $500 playing a heads hyper-turbo. I have wasted the best years of my life playing online poker as well as countless amounts of money. I feel completely dead inside and to be honest want to die. I have lost half of my net worth playing poker im only 19, ive played for 3 years and couldn’t know more about the game. I’m not going to kill myself that would be messy and insulting to people with real problems. in conclusion i think online poker has ruined my life, and anyone considering making money from it should realize profits from skill have to out strip commission, poker is not a zero sum game, to out strip you have to be very EV+ if you can do that then use that skill in other areas or your life.

  2. Thanks for these insights. Nice (well, nice isn’t the right word) to see you were actually a little bit ‘addicted’. This makes this post way more reliable. I’ve never played for real money online, but I have considered a ‘carreer’ in pokering online. Basicly because I see friends playing it and making a fair amount of money. We are all online, but I think I have more after 4 years, I’ll have a beautifull blogging experience, maybe even an online carreer, they have nothing but a poker addiction.

    Thanks Peter, glad you have your nights back.

    • At one point in the post I called it a “mild” addiction, but I didn’t really explain this (so I will now!). About 10 years ago I had what I would consider to be a major addiction to video games (eg Red Alert, Starcraft, Dark Reign etc)…. I was playing them at every possible moment and it was very difficult to stop playing (I don’t play video games anymore).

      Playing poker was different to this…. I wasn’t playing at every possible moment, which leads me to say I was only mildly addicted to it. Nonetheless, it was an addiction…

  3. I’ve tried to play poker and to gamble on horses and dogs, and found the whole experience to be completely dull and tedious. Of all the addictions I’ve succumbed to in my life, gambling hasn’t been one of them. I’m not a very strong-willed person by nature, so I’m not sure why this is, but I’m thankful for it!

  4. Hi Peter – I can imagine how much time you’ve saved and that is life!

    Thank goodness for your family that you’ve moved away and are back with them and wish us here at the Blog ..

    Happy Life – Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  5. Nice insights. I’ve played online poker as well for a considerable time. Like you, I was fortunate enough to not lose money on the activity, just a lot of hours and goodwill with my family. And given the fact that I was netting less than a dollar an hour, that wasn’t even close to worth it!

    Deinstalling the software is the best thing to do. Cancel your account even, because they won’t stop bothering you with email and even regular mail trying to lure you back in again.

    • Yes, deinstalling the software was the key for me. I reached a point where I just couldn’t use the computer for anything without having poker open. But once it was deinstalled I wasn’t too tempted to play. Canceling your account is a good tip, I didn’t have to go that far but I’m sure others will benefit from that tip.

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. Great story mixed in with your insight.

    I can totally relate as I have a tendency for addictive activities. They usually entail the spending of money on a consistent basis and escape is most certainly the appeal.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about addiction lately as I see more and more people who have some form of addiction that isn’t as obvious as Alcohol or drugs. But the fact is, all addictions are chemical based as it’s usually our addiction to adrenaline or endorphins or some form of ‘feel good’ chemical that is naturally emitted by our bodies. The act of the addiction is just a way for us to trigger our bodies to release the drug.

    When you won in Vegas you received a hefty dose of adrenaline. When you returned home you were sub-consciously searching for the right trigger to release that same amount, if not more, by playing online. The longer you went without this ‘fix’ the more frustrated you became and therefore impatient with the world around you.

    Maybe I’m off in my assessment with your particular situation, but I’m just using it as an example. At least I know that’s how I’ve reacted to past addictions. Just like you mentioned, I found myself becoming less patient with the ones I love and just plain neglecting the things that really mattered. And all for what?

    That’s the problem with certain activities when matched up with a personality like my own. If it’s too exciting I tend to latch on to that moment and seek more experiences like them in the future. This would be fine if the same level of excitement was enough each time, but with addiction we require a higher and higher ‘dose’ each time. Eventually we’re so immune to super high ‘doses’ that we no longer enjoy the pursuit, but require it to even feel normal. Then it’s all down hill from there.

    I know that all sounds a bit too ‘drug addict-esque’, but addiction is addiction is addiction…

    Anyway, sorry for the rambling. You just hit a cord, that’s all. Great post! :-) Eric

    • Hi Eric,

      I think your assessment is ‘spot on’ as Australians like to say. Particularly the part about how, after returning from Vegas, I was subconsciously searching for the right trigger to release the same amount of adrenaline. I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this whole gambling/ online poker thing, so I appreciate the way you’ve come to help me better understand it.

  7. Oh, and I love the “Poker School” Google add that’s displaying right now at the bottom of the post. ;-) Eric

    • LOL! Of course that would happen…. I cut back the Google ads with the redesign, but perhaps it is time to say goodbye to them altogether…..

  8. I really enjoyed this article, Peter. Congrats on being able to kick the habit!

    I’ve never had the desire to gamble … it always seems like a bad investment of my money. Still, I agree with Eric that addictions are common. There’s lots of socially accepted addictions … I’m thinking of my own relationship to chocolate and coffee!

    I guess the real key is not to give power to a substance or activity, but to remain empowered in making conscious choices aligned with the life we want to create.

    Thank goodness my morning coffee doesn’t interfere with the life I want to create! :-)


  9. Congratulations on kicking the addiction! I know what it’s like. About 4 years ago I was heavily addicted to online poker. I didn’t lose a whole lot of money (maybe $70-$100 tops) but TIME was the main loss.

    Lately I’ve been playing a fair amount again. It’s very tempting to be an ADD action junkie with online poker. I think the challenge of:
    1) Maintaining your mood during play
    2) Eliminating distractions (web browsing, music, stuff on your desk etc.)
    3) Keeping notes on your own play and the play of others during and after games

    can really make it an exercise in self-discipline. You really have to be focused SOLELY on the game if you want to win consistently. So I see online poker now as a tool for building my ability to focus and eliminate distractions. It’s definitely not easy!

    I agree though. If you find you can’t control yourself with it, uninstall the software and consciously pick other activities to engage in instead (time with family, reading, exercise, etc.). It’s not easy to admit your own weaknesses sometimes.

    • I agree – in my experience self-discipline is essential to doing well at poker. Check out the article I’m going to publish tomorrow called “How Poker Can Transform Your Life” by a guy who played professionally online. He credits the game with helping him to develop discipline, amongst other things.

  10. Poker is a very dangerous habit. I had to lose a lot of money ( 6 figures $ ) and precious time before I decided that this is something that hurts me.

    • i agree if you have too much time on your hands you can never have or lose enough money fact…..

  11. Just wanted to clarify: poker is not gambling. I’ll explain…

    Poker is a game of skill. Craps, roulette, blackjack, and slots, on the other hand, are gambling. The house always has an edge in those games and there is no skill involved.

    In poker, you play against other players, not the house. None of the players have an automatic edge over the others; skill is your edge. The better you are, the more you win; the worse you are, the more you lose.

    The part that confuses most people is the idea of “luck” and getting good cards or bad cards. What you have to realize is that the cards don’t matter, not until the showdown at least. Most people fold before then, so winning is a result of HOW you play, not WHAT you hold. That means that you can be good or bad, get better or worse, at poker… because it’s a game of skill.

    Hope this helps!

    Also, good to hear you overcame an addiction! That’s always good to hear from anyone. :)

    • Hmmm…. good points Jason, but I still personally consider poker to be gambling. I guess we’ll just have to disagree on that.

      • Great article, thanks for sharing. I’ve played poker online & live for about 5yrs now. It IS gambling, no doubt. The more experienced and skilled players will win more often and reduce their need for luck. Luck (or variance) is still a major factor. Although, i believe I’m a much better player today than when I started I will admit to being a ‘loser’ overall. I lost so regularly online that I would swear it was rigged. So, I played only live casino poker in the Los Angeles area exclusively for 3 months. Playing about 2-3 times a week in low stakes ($40 1/2 or $100 2/5), i’m roughly a break even player. I realize that I don’t have the focus or bankroll to make this an income generator. I do love the competition and strategy. After playing competitive sports for so many years, I now get that rush from golf and poker. I hope to play for the rest of my life but I’ve given up my dream to be the next Moneymaker.

      • LOL…Peter you are exactly right. I have heard this statement of POKER ISN’T Gambling 100 times and its just a way to make the players of poker feel better about what they are doing. If you look….many poker players started out with blackjack, craps and slots and then heard the old saying that “POKER ISNT A GAME OF CAHANCE” its a game of skill….feel better yet? People lose everything by playing POKER. If you talk to the pros (which I have) most of them have gone bust or lost it all in that one big hand that was going to put them over the top. Its a total gamble and people should be aware.

    • The only true game of skill is chess, because both players start out with the same chess pieces.

      In poker you have no control over the cards that are dealt to you – so that is definitely not skill. Some people like to think that betting and bluffing are skills, but they don’t work all the time.

      In Texas Hold’em, most players fold before the flop because they have received bad cards. You can have the best hand up until that last card is dealt, and then you lose. How is that skill? Again, the cards are dealt randomly and you have no control over the cards you receive. Most poker hands are won by the person with the best hand. Sure, some professional make big bets with marginal hands and bluff players off better hands – but that is overrated, and happens infrequently. If the other player doesn’t fold, they lose.

      Your best of the best poker stars get eliminated first round in poker tournaments because they do not get the cards. What happened to the skill?

  12. Wow Peter!

    I don’t know which is the better story: (1) Your willingness to share something so personal or (2) Your ability to overcome your addiction. You know what? Both stories are amazing – and so are you!

    Thanks for being vulnerable. Sometimes its good to hear I’m not the only one with demons.

    Take good care,


  13. It was really interesting to read about your experiences Peter. Both from a personal development standpoint and from an understanding of poker/addiction standpoint. I think we all develop addictions of one type or another over time… though I thought your “happy wife, happy life” quote was super cute!

    Thank you for sharing so honestly, I think a lot of people can benefit from this type of open discussion about gambling.


  14. Hi Peter.

    I like how you described the details of the issue and how you have gotten over it. The gambling quotes you have in each section fit well with the concept you are point out there.

    The part where you label how it affected you and your home life is a useful area to check if you get the urge to return to the habit, as you have clearly shown why it’s not worth coming back to.

    On a separate note, in response to your comment up there, I was also huge on Starcraft. I probably did 2000 3on3 BGH matches, mostly with a few of my friends, and that might be a low estimate(UMS and other maps also). Just thought I’d point that out.

    Real-deal material like this is where it’s at.

    • The game I mostly played was called Dark Reign. It was lesser known, but it was a RTS game similar to Starcraft that could be played online (these were the days when ppl were on beginning to play games online). Very fun game, but oh boy was I addicted to it….. Starcraft I also played a fair bit, but it didn’t have quite the same grip on me. As I mentioned above, I haven’t played video games for a few years now, although I expect we’ll buy a Wii in a year or two when the boys are older – that looks like good fun.

  15. I applaud you for getting rid of that addiction.

    I was exactly like how as you described yourself. You acted upon tasks that provided you with no lasting benefits or importance in life. I have been doing that for a few years, I don’t do it through gambling, but I have been doing it through online gaming and videos. I never realized that those were my addictions until I started to feeling extremely empty and miserable that I haven’t accomplished much in my life.

    The lesson I got from that experience is that the longer you immerse within your “addictions” the harder it is for you to get out of it. Your brain is so wired and adapted all these years to constantly look forward to those things that waste your time, that you wont even realize that you are wasting time after you feel all crappy at the end of the day.

    This year 2010 is the end of all that, I’ve decided to end this wasting time routine, and I will make more productive rsults from it.

    I’m so glad that you’ve gotten out of your addiction, I’m sure what you’ve accomplished posed as a great inspiration to all people who are like me.


    • Glad you enjoyed reading my article Steven =)

      Good luck getting rid of your addictions this year.

  16. Most online poker sites they are finding are cheating…FULL TILT HAS used bots at tables and payed players to raise the stakes higher and higher to get people into pots…Online poker from what i have seen are way to many bad beats over and over again…I play mostly at casino’s and make a decent living online i have been playing four months and haven’t cashed out once…stay away from online poker its a scam to get your money…

  17. I want to respond to “Jason” and his Jan 11 post. Poker is most definitely gambling,even if you are a winning player. If you have an 80% chance to win a hand before the river,the 20% that may hit on a suckout is stil something that must be dodged. Hence it is gambling. Skill and gambling are not mutually exclusive….One of the foremost experts on Texas Holdem,David Sklansky,calls poker a gamble. The only question is whether you have a positive expectation or a negative expectation over the long term. Still,the nasty variance can bite.

    Time is a huge casualty of online poker. I congratulate you on breaking the poker habit.

  18. i have lost close to 15k and im 18, i deinstall software only to reinstall, constant debt and overdrafts, ruining my life, how do i stop :(

  19. Robert,
    I’d suggest you get some professional help here. If you have an addictive personality it can be very hard to quit by yourself. You could also do with getting some advice on money management.
    Visiting might help.

    I also think that at 18, you’re possibly too young to handle the inevitable swings you get in online poker. I’m 30 and I’m happy to report that I’m a winning player, but I know at 18 I’d have been far more emotionally attached to my wins and losses and therefore more susceptible to “tilt”.

    Good luck. I really hope you can sort this out.

  20. This is dumb. While some of poker is luck most of it is actually skill and long term the skilled player will come out ahead.

    While it’s clear you and most of the people complaining about there addictions i do think you blame to much off it on poker. poker is like anything the more you play the better you get which is why poker pro’s are able to earn thousands each year.

    while I do agree giving it up was best for you as your obviously a losing player i have had the opposite experience in that poker has changed my life it gave me opportunity’s i would never have had before i was struggling to make ends meet and quite often was in debt and belive me thats no way to live

    fast forward a few years i put in a hell of a lot of hours and yes there games are beatable i only work part time now i did go pro but something like poker is hard to handle playing eight hours everyday it drives u crazy. I have a easy life which i juggle between playing poker and working in an actual job part time and i make three times as much as i did a few years back.

    so basically i just wanted to say it swings both ways obviously if i had kids and responsiblites things would be different you get what u put in and if u didnt have the time to commit to it then it prob wasnt worth it.

    but good luck to whatever u choose to do.

  21. You really nailed it on the head here. I’ve played off and on for 4 or 5 years, I’ve had a few bad experiences (esp when I started playing) where i’d play way above my head and lose too much money. I’d take a break come back with a “management plan” or some other plan that worked great in theory…I managed to get my excessive loses under control and play within limits.

    Of course no matter what I’d get “bored” of the low stakes and take a shot…and ruin any progress I made. Or I’d get intoxicated and decide to go a few rounds late at night…most of the time it was minor loses but recently I did a dumb thing drunk and dropped a few hundred in 2 hours on it. I woke up not angry about the lost money but angry that I let that happen.

    At one point I even had bankroll management logging being done, i had tracker software, and I set time limits. But of course I’d “go have a little fun” and that’d ruin any progress I made. I got rakeback to reduce losses.

    But then it dawned on me…No matter how much “progress” I made in my game, I’d end up losing some or all of it in a move of stupid playing (drunk, sleepy, over my limits) and this pattern kept on.

    You’re blog makes a lot of sense and struck a chord with me for sure. Its not only about the lost money, but also the lost time…while I wouldn’t consider my losses huge I still realize I’ve piddled away hours and hours on online poker with nothing to show for it…even when I started winning and going on consistent streaks, there was an empty feeling at the end because I always ended up losing or realizing that I was getting bored.

    I enjoy online poker sometimes but overall realize it isn’t really that much fun. It costs money and sure you can go through periods where you’re playing off “free money” or an old deposit but alls it takes is one dumb session to ruin it. It can become a grind for sure and boredom breeds trouble.


    it’s not poker and it’s not the world of warcraft you got addicted to

    IT’S YOU. if your no good at poker then stop playing poker has provided a unique opportunity for people to be able to make extra income and to do it on their own time.

    there’s a lot of people making a living from playing poker anyone can improve it’s a game of skill. daniel neg would be you over and over again in a match why? because he’s a very skilled player and he put the time and effort in like anything you do in life.

    Keep it recreational if you have bankroll management issue’s take the time to correct it

    if you do something over and over and over eventually you’ll do it right

    STOP making excuses

    maybe your just not as intelligent as the people who earn 100k a year playing online

  23. for all those who earn 100k a year how many lose 20k a year

  24. Below is my story in a nutshell… I’m still probably what you would consider a compulsive gambler, but I try to do the best I can… That’s all you really can do. I’m a fighter/survivor so as far as I see it life is good and I can’t complain, but please read this if you want some advice on whether or not poker is worth your time.

    I saw my college roommate playing online poker back in 2004… The buzz was stirring, lots and lots of people were playing, but I hadn’t given it a try. I asked him to teach me, so one Saturday afternoon he walked me through one of his sessions and created me, Frankenstein de Poker. I’ve become a compulsive gambler because of this game, which is truly sad, because I used to be the kind of guy that always watched my money… My family genes have produced risk takers/gamblers, so like someone said earlier in this blog, a lot of it is chemical… I’ve spent hours and hours and hours playing this game… In college I passed up endless opportunities, neglected my loving girlfriend, neglected friends, neglected my health… I’ve won over $10,000 in one night and I’ve lost a few thousand in one night. The problem is that once you’ve tasted the success you want more and the money flows so easily that it’s very persuasive.

    After six years of poker, I’d say the glaring theme left in my mind is what they teach you in business school about “opportunity costs”. You have to make a choice whether you are willing to give up a whole lot to truly play this game seriously… You have to decide what kind of person you want to be. You cannot play this game successfully if you’re only going to play every now and then. You have to dive into it. If you want to play for real money it would basically have to be like a job. It’s a stressful one believe me… It takes hours to play this game correctly. To truly play the game requires a ton, I repeat A TON of patience and that takes time… the rest of the world is still moving while you’re waiting around for a hand. You’re missing your cousin’s birthday, that dinner with Mom/spouse/girlfriend, that extra hour at the office, that time at the park with the kid(s). The world moves very fast these days and believe me it will pass you by if you’re sitting at the poker table/on the computer.

    Here’s a truthful look at how the cash flow goes:

    One night you lose $100, buy in for another $100. You lose that and say alright, one more buy in… You lose that and you leave, down $300. On a bad streak, you can continue to come back 5, 6 down $1,000 or $1,500. You take a week break, find a few buy ins have a big win $750, $800… Ok now you’re only down $700 right. Well before you know it that same thing will happen… This is an example of the low, low point when you’re not running “good” at all. It can also go the other way where every time you sit down, you win $300-$500 say 10 sittings in a row. So you go up $3000

    Main theme up and down, up and down, up and down… no real profit… a lot of wasted time… a lot of neglected friends, family… a lot of missed opportunity with fun activities, productive member of society type actions.


  25. Nice Job Peter. I have a gambling addiction……..BUT………now I understand that I have not been trying to overcome this addiction. I know I can do better and I will. Thanks.

  26. Been playing poker for few years. It seems I play for a while usually get up but get bored easy so play online blackjack to get that rush I lose everything quit and start again. I applaud you on quitting. I fail but will keep trying one day at a time . I fought my urges off today I need to go to sleep and do better things than get no sleep and be miserable because I am tired or because I took a kicking. The sites are the only ones who win slowly taking you.

  27. um it’s commen sense really blackjack is a house game your playing the house therefore you can’t win.

    poker your playing other people.

    the person who said it’s chemical in your genese being a gambler? lol what stop making excuses you only gamble because of the kind of person you are.

    Obviously it takes time and as the guy said time can pass u by but it’s like anything you wanna be good u have to put the work in look at it another way you put the work in to become good there’s a reason why the best poker players i the world are the best…because they worked for it.

    like anything football they put the work in. If your bothered about wasting your life go get a normal job which you can live off and use your spare time to do whatever you like.

    there are losers and winners in every game if your not build to be able to put in the work, motivation and commitment that it takes to be succesfull go find something else.

    • I find it interesting how most of the people commenting that don’t grasp the dangers of poker/gambling have an extremely poor command of the English language.

      One thing that disturbs me about poker is that its a game of deception. You often win by misleading other players unless you just got dealt the world’s best hand. Is misleading others good for you? I think not. Do that for hours a day for awhile and it will erode your sense of morality in all other areas.

      So even by winning at poker through deception you are losing morally in life and that’s a price too high to pay. If not, why not just go out and defraud people? What’s the difference? Legal technicalities but its similar. And both are destructive. Would you want your children playing poker betting their allowance they worked hard for by doing chores this past week? That might wake people up.

      Taking chances with your money when you have little control over the situation is just plain stupid. A fool and his money are soon parted.

  28. I hope all gamblers don’t think like that because you can put in all the time you want go on bad street and lose it’s not football or like running a ,business or whatever you think putting time into it you will succeed. So caiied pros who actually are successful own these sites ivey chan Brunson . I know I have problem I know to get a head poker is not the way I don’t want to sit in front of computer playing 6 poker games at once for 12 hours better things to do than this putting that time in doesn’t get you a head but does for full tilt and poker stars I have won tournaments few in between . It’s that rush I crave not the money. That’s why I have to fight this urge in me.

  29. I recently started playing online poker tournaments about a year ago. In the beginning I was playing very little stakes, 1-3 dollar games. I lost a bit of money which to me back then was like a few hundred dollars. Eventually I won that few hundred dollars back. When that happend my addiction sparked and I started playing a lot, basically all the time. I did quite well, making about $7000 dollars, I was also playing 50 dollar buy ins now. At this point I was playing all day and all night, I couldnt get enough of it. Id wake up at like midday and the first thing id do is open my laptop and start playing, and do so until early morning. This went on for months, I failed uni and didnt have a social life at all. I ended up cashing everything out and quit.

    A couple of months later, I decided to play a bit again. I dont play as much anymore but still a fair bit. Like a few people have stated, the worst thing is that time passes you by, especially when your playing tournaments which take 5-10 hours to win. The problem with me is that I enjoy it too much. I get a thrill from outplaying 5 thousand players and winning everyones buy in. But it is too addictive. The more you win the more you play. Its a vicious cycle.

    I need to stop playing or control myself from playing until really late when I have things to do the next morning but dont know how. I have deleted pokerstars from my laptop about 20 times now and keep reinstalling it. I dont know how to stop for good. I would like to only play when I have the time, but I find myself playing too much at a time. I need to do something about this.

    • yes i was in the same boat. could not stay away no matter what. i think its because i was looking for a hit. its a very addictive game. its just like cocain but possibly more dangerous. that buz of holding AA, KK, floping a flush or straight. wow what a buzz. having all that power over your opponent. the feeling of being in control(not good) i could not tell you how many times i was all-in my entire bankroll at 3am with crap (desperation )and hit an unreal lucky card on the river to win huge pot. get that double up i needed so badly. plenty of other times i didnt hit that card. one other time also at 3am i had a set and i went all in huge pot but my opponent showed full house but what did i hit on the river yep 4 of a kind. all this stuff is the result of addiction. wanting that buzz. i wonder how the good players manage to do it. turn a profit. decide when they play and when they dont. they are extaordinary people. they really work hard.
      now im finished with online poker. i put an end to the cycle. i found other activities to replace poker in my life. i have never felt better. it has been a challenge but in time these wounds heal and this sickness will be conquered.

  30. For those who DON’T think poker is gambling… you are just naive and in denial and convincing yourself what you are doing isn’t gambling…think about it you put money at stake with the potential of losing it or sometimes winning on a game of cards…it’s GAMBLING!!! quit being stupid and get a grip, also contribute something to society in poor economic conditions and go get a job or better yet put all your smarts into starting your own business so you can employ others and get the economy going…

  31. thanks for your input there GW but it show’s you obviously know anything about poker. I’ll just quit doing what i love for a living and go back to some crappy office job working 40 hour weeks on 15k a year. Er no thanks. Just saying there’s two sides to everything while there’s all the dumb idiots losing money there’s also the one’s that are doing good at it.

  32. I have been playing poker for many many years and at 41 years of age I have also done many waitering and bartending jobs for the better part of 15 years in my lifetime…I thought those jobs where you were mostly living off the tipping and uncertainty of the general public were unpredictable…but this whole “making a living playing online poker” takes the cake, talk about uncertainty!! Do you even realize some of the actual positives that were involved in your “40 hour weeks on 15k a year” job?? Such things as oh I don’t know, interaction with co workers, comradery, sense of accomplishment?? But no rather than A-trying to advance your career by getting the tools to make more money or B-searching out better more meaningful employment you have decided that making a living sitting in front of your computer for just as many hours with the hope of making money by having to play some 6-12 online poker tables at once potentially in your pajamas getting no physical or mental stimulation is better than the “normal work day” alternative?? Well good for you and good luck with that I am sure life has alot in store for your future, you seem to have it all figured out. Story of society in this new generation, we have gone from my father’s “career for life and family”generation to kids these days who “want everything right away” and aren’t willing to invest any time or resources to better themselves and be contributors to society. Sad state.

    • Gw I totally agree with you . Poker is like a drug never will be happy always want that bigger high. I played tourments one a few they got boring so moved up to cash games 1-2 no limit then playing 4 tables at once . Then moved to 2-4 played late at night . Got angry with other things when I had bad night playing. It’s a addition that I can’t win need to fight the urge so I don’t make living for full tilt poker stars ub . They are the only ones who make aliving out of us . They make it seem like normal it’s free. Yeah gw I agree with you.

  33. I have been ‘on tilt’ for weeks, no matter what I do…I LOSE, but last nite was the final straw, A7 off suit in the BB, the flop 7c 7d 10c, I raised 2 and a half times the pot, he called, fourth street 6d, I raised all-in….he called, showing K2d and caught the Qd on the river, so incredibly sick, what planet was this person from to call my bet on the flop with K2 ? and more to the point…why do these people always find me and HIT ? Anyway this was not an isolated incident, infact i’ve been gambling for 15-20 years and I’m only 34, but I can honestly say that this week, is the week that I will finally admit that I have a gambling problem, It started with fruit machines, for years I would do whatever I could to play them, then 5 years ago I discovered online poker, this was fantastic….I broke my affection for the machines, infact these days you will not see me play as much as €1 on a fruit machine…..but slowly and surely day in day out Poker has become the devil, the game I loved, that I thought had saved me, has now started to eat me alive, this week I have made an eye watering 20+ deposits on my various accounts, driving myself to despair, and ignoring the inevitable……Chasing money will only see me LOSE, I don’t play the way I used to, I don’t play for the love of the game any more, It’s all about money, It’s all about ‘clawing something back’…..I share this with you all to help those of you who do not know if you have a problem or not know what my symptoms are….but now it stops ! ! ! I am in no doubt that my behaviour is a one way ticket to a divorce, misery and unrest, I just do not want that in my life…….I WISH EVERYONE OUT THERE WITH A PROBLEM WITH GAMBLING A FULL AND SPEEDY RECOVERY, NEVER FEEL ASHAMED TO SEEK HELP FOR YOUR PROBLEM, I SHALL CONQUER THIS AFFLICTION AND I HOPE YOU DO TOO.

  34. So here goes i’ll wait for the so called pros comments ,if all these pros are making money on line lets just say for example 100 200 on poker stars were all the pros play regular its imposible that they are all making money if at those stakes its mainly pros playing,also have you noticed the goverment bans ciggarette advitising but allows all the gambling adverts instead,whats more addictive and more harmfull to people i leave that one up to you,as previous people have posted a lot of time wasted even when you win big [not very often but they have to keep you interested i suppose]you go out thinking your 10 foot tall pushing open the bar door like they used to do in the old western movies thinking your god,to behonest best thing that happend to me was giving it up took a few years to realize what a complete twat i had become money is no more my master.

  35. Hi peter thanks for doing this blog.

    My story is similar to many on here, im 30 years old and had never been into or even played poker until i was 24, i wasnt a gambler and had never even been in a bookies. I played on and off and then eventualy i won, i got about $400 wow i was buzzing, then i was up and down then after about six months i was down about $600, i quit and left it alone but not for long, id start finding other ways to gamble, bookies, scratch cards, i even won $4k on roulette on my phone while i was at work, then lost every penny, so i quit again wanted to break this mindless waste of time and money, then at the start of this year the urge was back the craving to play poker, i got some money $50 off one of them free money sites and id been reading poker books and believe it or not i won a tourney straight away $2k im thinking ive got skills, poker is a game of skill, which i do actulay still think but i realise now its ultimatley a game of greed and addiction, until june i had won in tourneys alone $14 and god knows how much in $33 sit and goes which i was playing mostly, and after coming back from vegas where i went with my wife i didnt get to play as much poker as i wanted so on return i went on crazy tilt on lost every penny of my bankroll and every penny of my bank account, i just could not control myself, i dont know why and i cant even describe the feelings driving me to do what i did, seemed like madness, anyway all can say is i must have been depressed, they game had stole my soul, i aint played since but the urge is constantly there i dont know how to beat it or if i can, i feel botter from not playing but i still want to play, if you dont gamble or you have justs started then stop now because once this beast takes control taming is going to be very tuff indeed.

  36. Today I have decided not to play online poker ever again. Its total bull. Can everyone who reads this please send me positively charged cosmic energy from your mind to help. This is simply done by closing your eyes and saying “quit Gaz quit” once. Cheers and God Bless you all.

  37. I had one of the bad experiences, I started out great, my first game a poker ever, only half understanding the game I won 2nd place at a sit and go game. From there I continued to win first place because I as I was told “Mr. Unpredictable” which I found was a good thing because face to face poker was difficult to master for most people.

    I found shortly after that I lost this talent because I now knew what I was doing and would give away how strong my hands were. I decided to beat out this factor by playing online. I did very well online for a few months, in fact I was so good I deposited 600 dollars and withdrew 3,000 by the end of my day at the ring game tables. I soon became bad at this too, I was playing to hard too fast to high of stakes and lost all my money, I eventually lost about 1500 to 2000 dollars total before I decided to give in and quit it forever, or so I thought.

    After over a year of not playing, I logged on this last week and played the last two nights and lost all 200 dollars I put into it, I obviously don’t have the patience or the skill to play online anymore so I have quit but that is one expensive habit I wish I had never started, better then smoking I guess….


  38. I am a degenerate. A true poker addict. But I’m also an artist. A writer. A person who feels deeply and takes sick pleasure in losing big. The roller coaster rush of the uncertain. The barely staying above water, paddling for my life, hopefully that rescue buoy comes soon type of guy who can in theory say “I’m addicted, I have a problem, I need to quit” but then overcompensate with “But I fucking love it. It makes me feel more alive than anything else this sad, selfish, hateful world has to offer.” Poker, books, and travel are my only real releases and moments of euphoria. I suppose I’m an intellectual thrill seeker and consider the 100k I’ve lost to be small prices to pay. so, so sick. I know.

  39. Hi there, was really great to read this. I have been playing online poker for the last four years, mainly due to not being able to get a ‘serious’ game with my friends. Recently however, I found a local poker club who play twice a week and playing online just doesn’t compare! Firstly, I feel that online poker has too many grey areas these days and it is just too easy to keep throwing your money away with the click of a button. So at this present time I am in the process of closing my online accounts because I cannot afford to invest my time and money in to something that I cannot fully trust or give my all to.

    I just have this nagging feeling that as time goes on, more and more suspect stories will come out regarding the online poker world – I don’t mind losing, I just like to know that I’m getting a fair game.

    Saying that, my enthusiasm for poker has vastly improved and I am becoming a ‘student of the game’ and eagerly await my weekly games.


  40. Here’s the point:

    If you play poker and can’t control YOUR personal actions and or will power you have a problem not with the game, but with the person in the mirror.

    If you can’t control yourself you’re a loser and pretty much everyone thinks that except the losers that “are addicted”.

    Give me a break and get some will-power and self-command people.


  41. Hi everyone.

    It was nice to be here and get the testiment with all the fellowmates.

    I had started bet sports two years ago by a friend’s influce. I started small, as 1 dollar, when it’s gone, another 1 dollar, when it’s not existing anymore, another 1 dollar, gradully, it turns up as 10 dollars,, 100 dollars. Then I end up find a “easy” way to win. I bet at the really last minute for the football game for no more score option, I got serious luck during that period of time. I won maybe up to 1700 dollars in total, then I cashed out 1200 out of them, in oder to keep the winning status, then use the rest 500 to play, I did the same tricks, and I lost them all eventually. It was such a excite either you realized yourself winning the damn “easy money” or just got bad luck to lose. But at that time, I realized it would ruining all which I deposited in, so I quit…

    Recently, I got bored, no gf, no job, last year in college, get back in again, I play randomly in the sports bets. After I ended up losing 100-200 dollars by that trick, I changed to play poker games, I got the beginnier luck, it ends up like me realized that there is something winning way faster than the sports betting. Then huge addiction into this poker game, The final result is that I end up rise my single bet wanger as much as 1k or 1.5k. The maximum lose was 2k, then I put 1k once more ,and swear to god, if I get all my principle back, I would quit, like 100%. I got luck again, I end up winning 800 something back. I brought nice pair of winter shoes for myself, a jacket for my dad, a expensive armani watch for myself, normally I am not wearing watch, just want to let it hitch me up, and warning me never even do it again, devote yourself into some meaningful things. Life is brilliant, we gotta work hard to earn a nice one. I am gonna go to church more often in the future, let the holy spirit take charge of my life. May god bless everyone of you here and have a blessing life!

    All the best.

  42. Well I like whatever you wrote esp “Happy Wife ..Happy Life”. In my opinion playing online poker is complete waste of time, energy and money because the software is designed in sucha way to generate maximum action and profit the company!! Many beginners nd people who are well addicted to it may not agree with me but they know within there heart what I’m sayin is the truth!! I have been playing poker for over 6-7 years and I have to come to conclusion that don’t waste a second playing ONLINE POKER will eat so slowly if not immdiately!! In my live games I have always been a winning player but not much success story when it comes to online poker!! Here are few major point :-
    1) How many times in ur life in a live game will you see ..AA vs KK vs QQ ..vry rarely but its common when it comes to online poker.
    2) Whenever you get a hand like JJ,QQ,KK or 10s .. There will always be someone on the table who will have AK and will flop an ace!
    3)Another example ..only in the online gaming I have come across this self made action .. 3 players in pot and all have flush one better thn the other !
    4)There is nothin like good hand when it comes to online poker ..because donks will take it all and then give it another player and then he will give it to another donk.. Vicious circle!
    5)If it was about good players winning then how u will not see on a course of 6-12 months that same player winning the tournament ever! When u win 1 tourney in online poker .. U r not going to win winning I mean 1st position again for coming 6 months!
    6)These online poker softwares are made in sucha way that when u reach a certain amount of BANKROLL they will start eatin up ur cash even if u play tight or only premium cards .. U will still lose till they drop u to certain level.

    Well I can go on and on writing about this but I will conclude to say this .. “”No1 will follow the right advice till you go through this yourself”.
    If you really love poker play it live not the wedsites ..they are all rigged 888,pokerstars, ipoker, titan each and every website! Partypoker made millions and millions with thr perfect software and later the operation head paid 80 million fine to get his name off the books and sold off his entire stake!!

    WAKE UP : live ur life .. Spend quality time with ur family and don’t waste a single second on ONLINE POKER may it be any website!! That’s my advice :)

  43. Hi Peter and thanks for your post. You are completely correct that poker is a form of gambling despite other people who have been brainwashed by all the media hype about it say.

    Yes there is AN element of skill…such as working out what other players are likely holding given the way they played their hand. However as all decent players know it is only an educated guess..and you can’t make someone else decide to call, fold or raise..sure you can make them put $2000 into a pot of $100 with nothing but a gutshot straight draw but some people will call that..they are called terrible players and ‘fish’ and apparently good players are supposed to love having them at their table…But even with these players it takes the right situation before you can profit..

    So you get AK against this guy and as good strategy dictates you raise a lot and he calls. And the flop comes A29. Great you think…it’s time to make money off this fish, you raise or check-raise and he ships it all in..and what does he have? A2… Or 29 suited or 9 10 and he catches his 10…

    If you play live for any reasonable amount of time consistently you will see something..some nights you keep catching cards and the other guy keeps catching cards that are just second best to yours. AND YOU GET PAID!! And it’s easy and fun and the way it’s supposed to be. But then the next time you don’t get a single hand for 3 hours until you get AK and you raise and someone you go all in and they call with 1010 and the board comes 772 J 9 and you bust.

    So maybe you rebuy and get nothing for an hour and a half and then you get QQ and so you raise and three people call and the flop comes AK 2. Then what? Continuation bet and get raised? What can you do now?

    Then a massive fish sits down and he’s rich. You rebuy so you’ve got a full stack. And the three hours you’re there you get j5 93 A4 48 k6 hands until you get JJ and he wants to play with you. You re-raise him and he calls and it flops 226 and you think I’m very likely good and you get it all in and what do you know he’s got K6 but also a flush draw and bang he hits the flush.

    That’s the type of thing you see over and over and over and over again at the poker table. There is something called a situational score that better defines luck at a poker table. The idea is if you have AA that’s lucky..but if the best had anyone else has is K4 and they are tight you won’t get paid no matter how ‘skilled’ you are. Or if someone calls you’re raise with 33 and it comes K32 you’re going to lose money no matter how skilled you are.

    If you are good at betting and putting people on hands that’s great but if they have something strong like a set or a flush or a straight they probably aren’t folding whether you’re Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey or any other big dick ‘hero’.

    All the top players you hear about are sponsored. They don’t have to invest their own money in tournaments. They have other sources of income. Usually the ‘best’ players are the most aggressive. Or most willing to take risks. Put another way most willing to GAMBLE!!

    Tom Dwan supposedly lost 20 million or so last year…Gus Hansen lost something like 8 million on Fulltilt in the last year..these top players with the best skills lose millions! How many top level chess players get destroyed for months?

    Poker is gambling, there is no doubt about that. You cannot control the cards that come, you can’t make someone fold a flush draw, you can give him ‘incorrect odds’ to call but if he calls and lose everytime.

    Look at Joe Cada’s win…he was all-in twice at the final table with 33 and 22 against QQ both times and he hit his 2 outer…TWICE!! That was not skill..that was gambling…poker is gambling..yes you have more choice, more influence, more factors to consider..but it is still gambling with cards you cannot control.


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