Special Report: Card Craze
"I think it's just going to continue to skyrocket in popularity," author of "How to Win at Texas Hold’em" Ashley Adams said.
Once a game favored by middle aged men, thanks to TV shows like the World Poker Tour, it's now college kids who are crazed about cards, and they play every chance they get.
"Every college campus, every dorm room, you're going to find kids playing poker," Thomas Crook said.
Bars like Maggies in Norwood hold poker nights once a week. There's no actual money changing hands here, just bragging rights.
"It's kind of gone from the smoky backrooms to the mainstream now," Crook said.
And in Internet casinos, $110 million is wagered each day from the comfort of home.
"People can, from the privacy of their own living room, sign on to 2-3 dozen sites - thousands of games," Adams said.
It's this easy access and younger crowd that worries the mass council on compulsive gambling.
"We're getting calls from people who work with young people, whether it's high schools and colleges," Kathleen Scanlan of Mass Council of Compulsive Gambling said.
They fear that some young poker players are getting hooked, and could develop a gambling addiction.
"It really progresses quite rapidly to a particularly devastating situation," Scanlan said.
And the students we talked to all know people who haven't known when to fold'em.
Some kids definitely let it get out of hand. Playing online for hours a day. They waste their money then they get mad and then they waste more money.
"You have to be careful," Adams said. "You have to be aware that gambling can become an addiction."
Be on the lookout for these warning signs:
- If they become nervous, short-tempered.
- If they spend hours playing poker over the Internet
- If they neglect schoolwork and friends.
- If their personal items start disappearing.
"They're selling their stereos, one young man sold his truck. And the parents didn't quite realize it was to support his gambling," Scanlan said.
For these kids, they say intervention is needed, before they end up gambling away their futures.
The Mass Council on Compulsive Gambling wants to stress that they are not anti-poker and say most people do play the game responsibly.
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