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In dealing with the topic of poker we should never ignore the issue of gambling addiction. In this article we will discuss factors that can lead to gambling addiction, some of which might already be manifesting themselves.

There can be a very fine line between what starts as fun and ultimately becomes too serious and, poker being a game that revolves around money, it’s easy to see how this can be more likely to lead to problems than, say, a pastime such as golf. What begins as a fun way to spend our leisure time with the prospect of making money, too, can quickly become a obsessive part of daily life.

With online poker, for example, being available 24/7, the danger is that we become so focused on making the mot of our time that it consumes us, by which time we’ve stepped over the proverbial line into gambling addiction, or pathological gambling, and vulnerable to such conditions as antisocial personality disorder. As is the case with other addictions, gambling addicts can be unapproachable, making support and help particularly difficult for those around them to help.

The three phases of Gambling Addiction

The Win Phase – Over time, a certain sense of both security and euphoria are elicited by beating opponents and winning their money. You start to bet ever higher amounts and play at increasingly higher limits because any game can (and must) be beaten. This, inevitably, leads to the potential downside of poker, namely losing big.

The Loss Phase – The fun side of poker, the ostensible ease with which you might have grown used to winning (which might not necessarily have happened, but is instead perceived as such) have now become less frequent or disappeared altogether. Money doesn’t come your way like it has, the buzz when it does isn’t the same, and both become rare or even non-existent.

You are angry about losses and need to reverse the process quickly, playing more and more, no longer tracking your bankroll fluctuations. You think that you still have everything under control and failure is attributed to bad luck. You sink further into your own world and gradually neglect family and friends. The losses increase so much that you use savings or borrow money to ‘chase’ and the downward spiral continues. Even at this low point, where a more rational person would finally slam on the brakes, a gambling addict sinks further, and helplessness turns to despair.

The Despair Phase – This is the most dangerous part. You withdraw completely and are 100% immersed in this essentially virtual world. Debts can only be repaid sporadically and you continue to raise money by any means to continue your quest. Your personality has changed, you’re irritated, irrational, nervous, sleeping very poorly.

Unfortunately, the consequences of gambling addiction are often not limited to your own detriment, or even family and friends. As well as the financial and emotional cost, there can be legal consequences which, in turn, can bring even worse implications such as those associated with drug or alcohol addiction. Alas, a key difference here is that pathological gambling doesn’t necessarily receive the same recognition.

Help for gambling addiction

Managing to recognize the first signs of gambling addiction means being able to act as quickly as possible. You should go to a self-help group and seek professional help (such as a psychotherapist) and support. Pathological gambling is a mental illness and can be treated. Address any financial problems by getting the assistance and advice of debt counsellors. Taking these necessary steps as soon as it’s evident there’s a problem is an imperative, after which the path to recovery is an easier one.

What do the gambling operators do to protect people?

Gambling addiction affects lawmakers as well as gambling operators such as casinos, betting offices and poker providers. Urging players to adhere to a necessary level of self-control and rules of conduct at least helps generate a healthy environment, while some online poker rooms also try to protect players by imposing upon them strict deposit limits.


There is a wealth of information available to players that can help them have an awareness and understanding of gambling addiction and the signs that it might be becoming a problem. If you notice the first signs of addiction, and any of the above is applicable to you, you should act quickly and seek help and advice. Gambling addiction is a very serious issue that can affect anyone, and therefore should be taken very seriously.

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Daniel Berger

Hi Guys, I am Daniel the chief content manager of YourPokerDream.
I have been working in the poker industry for almost 10 years now.
I do my best to keep you all up to date regarding our partner sites
all promotions and about general poker topics arround the world.

· Published 31.01.2018 · last updated 04.02.2021

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