Sunday, April 13, 2008

Poker is my anti-drug.

The sports scandal of the day is performance enhancing drugs. Most recently, baseball players using (and denying) human growth hormones or HGH. This is a serious offence since HGH or any steroid can raise the player's athletic ability to a level beyond anyone playing by the rules. It's unfair. It's cheating. Whether or not you consider poker a sport, poker players are not athletes. HGH isn't going to get me to the final table. However, poker isn't without its performance enhancing drugs.

Some people claim alcohol improves their game. I can see their argument. If a player knows he or she needs to be aggressive to win, but is far too conservative to ever pull the trigger, a couple drinks may loosen them up. Of course, everything in moderation. Chances are the player will have one drink too many and suddenly the decision making process as a whole has been drowned out. Friends don't let friends bet drunk.

As a recent college student, I know alcohol isn't the only drug that can by used at the poker table. Some prescription drugs like Adderall aid with focus. Many fellow students took part in the grey market of Adderall for all-night cramming sessions before the big test. Many swear it is an essensial studying tool.

For a game that is much more mental than physical, could Adderall or something similar be a performance enhancing drug? Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not recommending it. Everything has side effects and I only rely on my own brain chemistry for poker or any other activity. I bring this up to begin the conversation of whether or not blood tests for major poker tournament are needed. More money is on the line at the World Series of Poker than most sporting events, and because of this casinos take serious steps to prevent cheating. Are the players individual drug habits cheating? Let me know what you think in the comments. I don't have the answer for this one.

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