There has long been a tradition of healthy skepticism about gambling in general. This has had some pseudo religious motivations whereby people of faith felt that the real world should reflect some of the ideals they aspired to as they worshipped. There was also an element of base snobbery that believe in the theory that naughty things belonged to rich people as they were the only ones capable of controlling their emotions in the face of such wicked temptations. In looking at the specific case of Texas holdem, I was particularly impressed by writers who identified some of the issues which can cause a conflict between the gambling policy and the game itself. In this article I will point out the main themes that drive this debate.
The Power Struggle
1. Gambling is credited with ruining lives in general and affecting the operations of the family unit. It can, in its very worst forms, take away the ability of the head of the household to pay their bills and lead a decent life. It relies on the development of an addictive attachment to the practice of betting on certain events. Texas holdem fits this description and is one of the types of gambling that has been credited with popularizing the practice.
2. The use of film imagery such as the one seen in James Bond films has forced us to re-evaluate the value of our own lives. Gambling has been made the ultimate expression of social affluence. The amount of money it requires to operate means that it is still outside the reach of many ordinary people. The anti gambling hacks would have us believe that this is the way forward. However when people see the practice of Texas holdem being glamorized in film and cinema, they get an aspiration fervor which allows them to continue striving to get to the level of economic affluence at which they can comfortably gamble.
3. The anti gambling debate is filled with inconsistencies and half truth. There tends to be a particularly puritanical approach to criticizing those who enjoy a bit of gambling without understanding the frailties of human nature which make us vulnerable and real. The idealization of the perfect makes ordinary people less ordinary and more willing to sacrifice their morals for the pursuit of the desired item. In this case it is the entrance to the gambling class that will drive people into Texas holdem.
4. Because Texas holdem has become an affluent version of the poker game, astute governments will tax it on the basis that people who go there will have sufficient resources to support a larger than usual tax burden. Therefore you have a cycle of hypocrisy that has plagued the smoking bans across many countries. On the one had the government needs the gambling tax revenues for its own administrative purposes yet at the same time it enacts public policy that is meant to discourage gambling. On the face of it, one can argue that the government is deliberately sending out mixed messages but on the other hand one has to realize that that has always been the role of government.