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How To Avoid Getting Addicted To Online Poker

By: Megan C.

Poker Addiction

Every day two million people, seventy to eighty percent of whom are from the United States, visit an online poker website. Although playing online poker can be fun, one must be careful: the game is addictive and playing it can have far stretching consequences.

As much as five per cent of all adult online gamblers eventually become addicted, says the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The rate for young adults is even higher. To avoid getting addicted to online poker, here are eight useful tips.

1. Don't try to win back your losses

If you feel you have to return to the game as soon as possible after you lost to win back your losses, or if you feel the urge to return to win more after you've won, you're getting addicted. Trying to win back money is a good way to lose even more money. If you find it hard to resist the urge to return to the game, go outside for a while and try to clear your mind.

2. Don't play under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Alcohol and drugs affect your ability to think clearly. The consequence is that you will have more trouble playing the game and will continue playing poker for a longer period of time. Make it a rule not to use any alcohol or drugs when you want to play poker.

3. Take a break

In order to distantiate yourself from the game and put things in perspective again, take frequent breaks. If you find it hard to tear yourself away from the computer, consider using parental control software, getting a dog (dogs need frequent walks and will let it know when they need them) or setting an alarm.

4. Play because you're having a good time, not to repress negative emotions

If you're playing poker to escape daily-life worries, there's a higher risk that you'll get addicted, as you are fleeing into the false safety of an online game. If you feel the urge to play poker right after an argument or disappointment, try to resist the urge. Problems won't go away if you play poker every time a problem arises. Deal with your daily life trouble before you go online.

Poker

5. Be alert for signals that you're losing control

If playing poker is making you frustrated, if you cannot keep track of the time or if you are continually losing, stop playing. Be aware of your own behavior when you're playing and know when it's time to stop. Don't make excuses for starting up another round: no 'just one more game' or 'I just want to win one, then I'll quit'.

6. Set a limit

Set a time limit before you start up the game. Half an hour a day is plenty and will leave you enough time to give attention to important matters like family, education and a social life. (Obviously, the less time you feel you need to spend online, the better.) Apart from the time limit, also set a money limit. It's a good idea to do this on the first day of the month: make the deal with yourself that you will not gamble more than a reasonable amount of money. After the money is gone, stop playing untill the following month.

7. Respect the element of chance

Even if you believe you're a better-than-average poker player, there's always a chance that you will lose because you were just not lucky enough. Don't think that just because you play more often or because you're smarter, you're automatically more probable to win -- and don't think that when you lose, you have to practise more to become better at the game. Playing poker is gambling and the only one who ultimately wins is the owner of the poker site: it's no coincidence that there are over 300 poker sites in the world.

8. Seek professional help

If other people are complaining about the amount of time you spend online, if you're in debt because of your losses or if in any other way your life has suffered from playing poker, do not be ashamed to seek the help of a specialist. A good site to start looking for help is http://www.gamblersanonymous.org. You're not alone in your desire to get rid of the addiction.

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