Your buddy Billy is dealing this round of hold 'em. It's a quarter past 11 and you've had bad hands all night. You pick up your cards and like what you see: the king and the queen of spades. As you toss your chips into the pot, you try to maintain the disappointed look you have been wearing all night. Here comes the flop: the four of hearts, 10 of diamonds, and jack of spades. Sweet! You up the ante, and three of your buddies fold. But your best friend Tim thinks you're bluffing and stays in the game.
It's time for the turn: the three of diamonds. Tough luck, but there's one more card to go. You can still get your straight with an ace or a nine, right? You convince yourself that the odds are better than they really are, and you go all in. You boldly flip your cards and see Tim's modest pair of fours. You take a deep breath — here comes the river. For a fleeting moment you think it's a nine. It's not. It's the six of clubs! You've got nothing — not even your lunch money.
Sound like a recent Friday night with your friends? We hope not. But odds are that if you're like most teens, you've tried your hand at poker recently. Experts say teen poker parties are popping up around the country because of hit TV shows such as World Poker Tour and Celebrity Poker Showdown. But some people worry that teens are being dealt a bad hand. Stakes Too High
Gambling can be addictive, warns Keith Whyte of the National Council on Problem Gambling. "Kids are gambling with their health [when they play poker], because for some people this can get very serious indeed," he told USA Today. Compulsive gamblers get hooked on the rush of excitement and can't stop playing — even when they're out of luck. People who start gambling at a young age are more likely to become problem gamblers, Whyte explained.
Arizona state Sen. Karen Johnson is appalled by the number of parents willing to host teen poker parties. "It's incomprehensible to me that parents would think anything good would come of this. ... Why show kids any vice?" she told The Arizona Republic. Deal With It
California parent Deborah Rodman thinks it's a risk worth taking. "I think Josh playing poker is great. I know where he is, and he spends less on this than going to the movies," she told USA Today. And while gambling might be an issue for some people, she said, "I think the risk is far greater having [Josh] roaming around out there."
Playing poker is a learning experience for Brace Wilson, a junior at Long Reach High School in Columbia, Md. "There is a lot of quick math involved, and you have to be able to...have a certain amount of focus," he told The Baltimore Sun.
High school junior Firas Mustapha just thinks playing poker is fun. In an editorial for the Tulsa World, he wrote: "Poker is just a fun way to spend a Saturday night. ...Anyone who sees poker as more than that should really just chill."
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