Online Poker

Is a 21 Year Old WSOP Champion Sending the Wrong Message?

by Poker Team

At just 21 years old, Joe Cada has already become the youngest World Series of Poker Main Event champion ever. Also, it is quite unlikely that anyone will be able to top that record. Then again, it was just a year ago that Peter Eastgate, then 23, had just become the youngest winner ever. Does the fact that the two most recent winners and instant millionaires are barely of legal drinking age pose a bigger problem and send the wrong message to young people worldwide? This is the very question that has already caused quite a stir and is surely to be debated in the weeks and months to come. After all, even before winning the game’s highest honor, Cada had dropped out of college to pursue a poker career based on his online results ad now would appear to have zero motivation to go back for a degree.

To his credit, Cada has already cautioned other young aspiring poker players that his tale is far from the norm. In a message in the Detroit Free Press, his hometown newspaper, Cada said

“You have to be very careful when you decide to make it a living. More people lose than win.”

This is of course the obvious truth. For every Joe Cada, there are countless of other young people who simply lose at the game and never reap any real benefits from poker. Some win moderately, some lose big, and some develop real gambling problems and struggle to re-enter mainstream society. The Joe Cadas and Peter Eastgates of the world are the exceptions, not the rule.

The debate in Cada’s hometown has already begun, with one prominent writer hoping out loud that Cada’s victory does not make him a role model in a part of the country hit particularly hard by the weakened US economy. The writer, Ron Dzwonkowski said

“I hope Cada doesn’t become an inspiration. He’s an exception. Most gamblers lose. If they didn’t, Las Vegas wouldn’t exist and the three casinos in Detroit wouldn’t be holding up as well as they are in the nation’s worst economy.”

The question on whether poker is gambling or a game of skill is another debate for another time, but the root of Dzwonkowski’s point is valid. What would happen if other young people, already downtrodden financially, led themselves down the road to ruin looking to duplicate what Cada has done? If this were to be the case, Cada’s win could be disastrous for impressionable young people to attempt to emulate.

It is also reasonable to believe that lawmakers may be asking themselves some of these very questions as the topics of poker reform take center stage over the next several months.

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