Forget Student Loans, Just Play Poker Online?

from the great-advice-there dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about a startup that claimed it was raising funds by having its founders play online poker games. The story sounded bogus — and seemed just like a story someone came up with to “hook” the press. However, hearing about students trying to pay for tuition by playing online poker seems a bit more realistic. What’s not all that realistic, though, are some of the other details in the article. It’s a student paper, so perhaps the reporter should be forgiven, but there are some obvious problems with the article. First, it never bothers to mention that online gambling is still illegal in the US. That would seem like a pretty big point. Even if plenty of people do it, that doesn’t mean it’s legal. The story also misses a few facts, such as claiming that the big online poker company PartyGaming is private and, therefore, its finances are private. The company, of course, went public over the summer to much fanfare. However, more important than any of that is that the article does little to note that people lose money on these sites pretty often as well. It does mention it in passing, but mostly glorifies playing online poker as a way to pay tuition and possibly as a full-time job after college (it quotes one student saying that getting a degree is now a “backup” in case online poker falls through as a career). Hmm, overhyped get rich quick schemes for students, causing some to skip getting a degree. Yet another similarity between the online poker bubble and the original dot com bubble.

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Comments on “Forget Student Loans, Just Play Poker Online?”

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pokerpundit (user link) says:

No Subject Given

Can you link to the source material that you have for the proposition that playing poker online is illegal in the US. (I note that really isn’t what you said: what you said was the online “gambling” is illegal, but I think what you were trying to convey is the impression that playing poker online is illegal.)
Running an online casino is probably illegal, but that’s different than playing poker online. The “player” is not running a casino.
Also, poker is different from “gambling.” For example, the house is not dealt a hand in poker like it is in blackjack, where players play against the house and with rules guaranteeing that the house always mathematically wins over the long haul.
Not trying to get into a semantic argument, but poker is fundamentally different from gambling. And while running an online casino may be illegal, I submit that playing there certainly isn’t.

stizz says:

Re: Poker

I want to see where it says online poker is illegal in the US. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to ‘not lose’ when playing online poker. Fold if you dont have a pair at the start. Don’t raise if you don’t have to, and assess your opponents and you’ll get a feel for when they’re bluffing.

Bots exist that can play just this way, and can scape by and win a couple hundred bucks over the course of a busy night when left on autopilot.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

I’ll admit that it’s something of an open question, but our government has made it clear that they believe online gambling of any kind is illegal, and they don’t want anyone involved, either running a casino or playing. I doubt they’d crack down on players, but they’ve done everything in their power to shut down any kind of online gambling whatsoever. The specific laws are a bit murky, but Congress keeps trying to make them clearer.

The people who say that it’s not illegal to play are pretty much in the same situation as people who used Napster originally and said that using it wasn’t illegal, just running it was. I agree with you in principle — but the government might not see it so cleanly. 🙂

As for the difference between poker and gambling, we’ve discussed that before too — and again, it’s a gray area, but the current administration comes down pretty clearly on the side saying poker is gambling.

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