Online poker is currently in a state of intense scrutiny and scepticism, with stories of security issues, cheating scandals and fraud all being staple parts of the current climate. Another major concern that often goes hand in hand with online poker has once again been brought to the table, that of online addiction. This time not so much the subject of 'gambling addiction' alone but actually of an addiction to being online for long periods of time.
UK newspaper the Observer picked up on this, sighting a study by Dr Jerald Block, reporting that internet addiction is a serious public health issue that should be recognised as a clinical disorder. This comes after a 2007 where 10 Koreans died from blood clots from remaining seated too long whilst playing games online and another was murdered as a direct result of an online game.
Gaming, online gambling, viewing pornography, emailing and texting were all identified as a cause of compulsive-impulsive disorder by Block, saying an addiction has four main components:
* Excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives;
* Withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible;
* The need for better computers, more software, or more hours of use;
* Negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation and fatigue.
Although online poker was not specifically mentioned in any of the examples, it was implied throughout the piece and does appear the prime candidate for internet addiction. To give an example, I know of players who win rake races after playing 10,000 hands a day, which is more than many people, play in several months. Everyone knows of a player who has been accused of being a 'bot' because of their excessive time spent playing online.
Block commented that the websites mentioned should not be held responsible, "The relationship is with the computer," he said. "First, it becomes a significant other to them. Second, they exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer, through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, porn. Third, computer use occupies a tremendous amount of time in their life. Then if you try to cut the cord in a very abrupt fashion, they've lost essentially their best friend. That can take the form of depression or rage."
If you answer yes to five or more of these questions you may have an internet addiction, and should contact netaddiction.com:
• Do you feel preoccupied with the internet? (Think about your online activity or anticipate your next online session.)
• Do you need increasing amounts of time on the net in order to achieve satisfaction?
• Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop internet use?
• Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop internet use?
• Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
• Have you jeopardised or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the internet?
• Have you lied to family members, a therapist or others to conceal the extent of your involvement with the internet?
• Do you use it to escape from problems (e.g. feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?
Ed note: UK PokerNews recommends safe, controlled Internet usage at all times. If you think you have a problem then seek help