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Poker's Popularity Grows Among Teenagers

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In Chicago, Illinois, among many other cities across the nation, a new trend has swept teenagers like a plague. Poker, or the newly named Texas Holdem, has been the new hobby to most kids, boys in particular. Since the football season has been over, one boy even turned his dining room, a place for family time and bonding, into a full fledged poker parlor with chips, and plenty of decks of cards.

Texas Holdem came about sometime in the beginning of the decade, and has become more an more popular among teenagers. Launched from TV competitions between everyday people and even celebrities, kids from even our community have become hooked. In fact, some parents condone it. They think that the game teaches strategy, critical-thinking, and math skills. One parent even compared it to smoking pot, saying he'd rather have his children play Holdem than not know where they are. It's "safer" because unlike drugs that impair your judgments, the child is occupied with something that, if developed, can be cured by just taking it away. Josh Kohnstamm, father of Josh in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, says "it's become the perfect escape for his studious 16-year-old son, Josh, who 'takes everything too seriously.' Allowing him to 'whoop' the school's best athletes -- computer geek that he is -- and come away feeling lucky when that is a sensation that rarely happens in his everyday life." But I could only wonder if the game was more about self-fulfillment and confidence, or critical thinking and math skills? Either way, the child is gaining, isn't he?

But then again there are also the adults who think that the game is a bad habit, and develops bad gambling habits. "It's fun. It's exciting. It's glamorized on TV and in the media in a way that other addictions are not," says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. "There's the impression that through skill you can beat the odds. But randomness is always going to have a bigger factor in determining the outcome than your skill." The fact is, is that gambling is an addiction and has been known to be hard to overcome. However, I don't think that anyone can actually say that it is forbidden because I really think that no matter what, every person takes a chance which can be considered gambling.

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue. Almost



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