Gambling has found a growing fan base online
Posted: Tuesday May 24, 2005 3:46PM; Updated: Wednesday September 19, 2007 3:09PM
"The Internet is for porn."
For college-aged men, the most popular clandestine pastime on their PCs may no longer involve Danni Ashe or Cindy Margolis. No, if Trekkie and the rest of the inhabitants of Avenue Q were to reprise their tune, the lyrics might read, "The Internet is for poker."
See that guy who brought his laptop to class, the dude seated in the last row of the lecture hall? Odds are he's on partypoker.com or ultimatebet.com right now. The sophomore in the room across the hall who hasn't opened his door for 14 straight hours -- and yet you know he is there? Chances are he is on paradisepoker.com or bodoglifecom.
They all are playing poker online. Playing as many as four hands simultaneously, while also chatting on their cell phone, IMing friends (or the idiot playing at their "table" who just went all in with a pair of 10s), smoking a joint (to relax themselves) or popping Adderall (to stay alert), even doing homework.
"I'll play 1,500 hands online in six hours," says Grayson, a sophomore attending the University of Florida on an academic scholarship. "No big deal. I chat online or watch TV at the same time. How much homework do I do while I'm playing Hold 'em? Too much. Last week I basically wrote a 10-page paper for my Politics in Film and Fiction course while playing two hands at a time."
And it isn't only college kids who prefer computer poker to live competition. "I rarely play live because I find it too slow and I quickly lose my attention span when playing," says Thomas "Thunder" Keller, who won a bracelet at the 2004 World Series of Poker in Limit Hold 'em. "Instead I opt to play online, often playing as many as eight games at once on two separate computers or playing up to three people headup at once."
Keller's gargantuan intellect seems well suited for the hyperkinetic pace online poker offers. "When I play I often play two or more different games at the same time," he says. "Such as playing two people head-up Hold 'em and one head-up Omaha eight or better or playing two short-handed Hold 'em games, a triple draw game, and a no-limit game."
Sounds simple, right?
According to pokerpulse.com, an industry-tracking site, each day more than $100 million in bets passes through more than 200 online poker sites. A recent look at pokerpulse.com shows that the peak number of "real-money tournament players" on pokerstars.com -- the industry's second-most popular site -- at any one time in the past 24 hours was 24,879. That figure represents a number greater than the undergrad enrollment at the University of Michigan.
Industry estimates are that pokerstars, partypoker.com (the industry leader) and their brethren, all of which are located outside the United States, will generate $10 billion in profits this year. That represents a 40 percent increase over the past year. Can you say "boom?"
The attraction for the college (or high school) student is manifold:
1. Privacy: As with porn, or drinking alone, you need not announce your habit to the world.