It would be pretty easy to get addicted to online poker. You log in to a site like Pokerstars and watch some of the 25/50 No Limit Hold'em cash games, and marvel at how some 21 year old kid just won a $25,000 pot. You think to yourself, that sure seems easy enough. If I keep trying and keep practicing, one day I'll be on that table, playing at those stakes.
You read about how an online poker wonderkid came 3rd at the Irish Poker Open, taking down a score of $700,000, and think to yourself: I could do that.
So you deposit some money and start playing. You read every book there is to read on poker, you watch poker whenever it is on television, and you read every poker blog there is to read. You try tournaments, you try cash games, you try Sit and Go's. No matter how much you try, you just can not win. You win occasionally, and that just feeds your perception that you are almost a winning player, you just need to spend more time at the tables.
You deposit over and over again, and soon poker is taking over your life. It is all that you think about. Driving home from work, you are thinking about the tournament that you are going to play that night, long after everyone else is asleep. You figure that all you need is 3-4 hours sleep to function the next day; if you really go deep in a tournament, you could probably do with just two hours of sleep.
The game becomes frustrating, and you start smashing your keyboard and throwing your mouse. You start to get nagging headaches when you play, and it seems as though your head is in a vice. You keep reading, playing and depositing, and nothing seems to be working.
Your health is deteriorating. You are getting behind at work and at home. People are starting to notice. Your deposits are getting larger and larger, and you are playing at stakes that are above your head, just hoping for one big score.
Sound familiar? The reality of the situation is that while there are some very successful players online, most players will end up as losing players. Should you start feeling yourself being addicted to poker, there are several steps that you should take, immediately.
1. Email the poker sites that you play at, and have them ban you. Include your name and alias at the poker site, and tell them that you want a permanent ban on your account. This will also ban your IP address, so you won't be able to sign up for an account in the future. The online sites will email you back, asking if you are certain you want to do this. Reply in the affirmative, and your accounts will be banned for life at the online poker rooms.
2. Shut down your methods of depositing. Do you have a Neteller account that you use to fund your online poker account? An Epassporte account? Send them an email, telling them that you want your accounts to be permanently closed. Again, they will ask for confirmation. Tell them you have a problem with gambling, and that you need your accounts to be shut down.
3. Give away your poker books. If you can't give them away, then recycle them. You don't want any thing around that will give you the temptation to start playing poker again.
4. Uninstall your poker software from your computer. It might be tempting to watch some of the high stakes poker action on Pokerstars or Full Tilt Poker. Don't do it. It will just make you want to play. You can even ban sites like Pokerstars or Full Tilt Poker from being shown in your browser.
5. Exercise. If you exercise daily, you will probably not want to be sitting in your chair, playing poker for hours at a time. You will want to be outside or at the gym, working out your body.
6. Ignore sites like Pocketfives.com, etc., especially when a big poker event is going on. The World Series of Poker final table is taking place, and you want to know who is doing well? Don't do it. It will just make you want to play again.
7. Remember your family. When all else fails, remember your family. Do you really want to put them through the wringer? Remember, most big-name professional poker players, no matter how successful they may try to seem, are actually quite penniless most of the time. You have your house, your kids, and your happy life; do you really want to give that up for a card game?
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