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Gambling potentially dangerous for college students

Poker, the Travel Channel, World Poker Tour, Bravo's Celebrity Poker Challenge and the prime-time drama TILT have saturated the airwaves in recent years, giving viewers a closer look at the world of Texas Hold Em and pushing it into the pop-culture spotlight. Barry Burkhart, professor and chair of the psychology department, said he thinks the game's constant glamorization is partly responsible for getting college students hooked. There's no doubt that media exposure enhances the attractiveness of it and increases the risk, Burkhart said. 

Eric Cleveland, a senior in building science and avid Texas Hold Em player, said he can understand why the game has gotten so popular. You share so many cards with everybody else, Cleveland said. "Your hand is not going to differ a whole lot, so you have to play the other person a lot more." He added that the barrage of poker programming on cable can sometimes fail to convey the skill involved in the game. The way it's on TV right now, it looks like anybody can win, he said. Most people don't see the downside of it.? Burkhart said students don't see the downside for several different reasons. 

"They're inexperienced", he said. "They have not been beaten over the head and shoulders by life, so they don't appreciate the long-term consequences." Burkhart said students lack of experience may get them in over their heads before they even know it. College students don't have as much appreciation for negative consequences, he said, and they're not real good planners, so they tend to be slightly more impulsive. Another thing that can contribute to reckless gambling, Burkhart said, is that many students are playing with cash they didn't earn. They are often using money that is delivered into their account by their parents, he said, and so they don't have a real fundamental appreciation of what money represents. Above all else, Burkhart wants students to remember the fundamental rule of gambling. The statistical probability is that you're going to lose, he said. [Students] very often engage in the thinking that, If I keep playing, then "I'll be able to dig my way out of this." But what happens is they just dig the hole deeper. Burkhart said he often hears from students who have amassed mountainous gambling debts for these reasons. The most important thing, he said, is to not use the problem to try to make it a solution, he said. That's when they really get in trouble. Although Krauss said he hasn't had any problems with money or slipping grades yet, he does think gambling can be a problem for students who take it too far. "I know some people", he said, "they bet on NFL football, they bet on college football. Hold Em might be a gateway for that, but as long as you keep it under control, it's not going to be a problem." Krauss said he usually just sticks to friendly poker, adding that he prefers to steer clear of the Texas Hold Em tournaments that have been ubiquitous in some of Auburn's local bars lately. 

I don't like to do those, he said. There are a lot of people that are not really good at it, and you don't really get a real prize or anything. For Krauss, it's all about the thrill. He said he just likes putting his money on the line and competing with his friends. That's not to say they don't take the game seriously. "I get really mad if I lose," Krauss said. "I might throw a chair or something."


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