Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

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Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
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Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
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Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
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Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
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Poker Cheapskate
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    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Journalism, or Graphic Design?

    We've seen reports like this before; college kid starts playing poker, gets in over his head, disaster ensues. You'd think a story like this wouldn't be "news" anymore, unless the kid went bonkers with an AK-47. Or started dating Britney Spears.

    Don't get me wrong--gambling addiction is real, and people who have problems should get the help they need. I'm not a fool and I'm not a hack. Unlike the people who put together the piece I linked to. Watching it it's painfully obvious that they spent more time on post-production than actually gathering the facts and analyzing those facts.

    For example, this line from the clip:

    "Studies show students are two to three times more likely to become problem gamblers than any other age group"

    Great reporting there. Let me ask a few questions of my own: Which studies? Conducted by whom? What was their methodology? Did they look at other forms of behavior (drinking, smoking, drug use, sex) and determine if college kids are more likely to engage in them? And while I'm not a statistical superstar, "two to three times" is not an especially precise refinement. The difference between something happening 2x times instead of 3x times is a...50% difference, yes? If I recall correctly from my B-school stats class, that would be a "big" difference.

    The piece is constructed on these ephermal, nonsensical factoids. Several students are quoted as saying things like "I know a couple people who have had to kind of drop out of school because of gambling debt getting pretty high", and "One of my friend's friends has won like 10k over a year". Wow, talk about some damning evidence. People had to "kind of" drop out because their debt got "pretty" high. And a friend of a friend won "like" ten grand. Can't argue with facts like that.

    A school counselor and the director of a local hospital's recovery center talk about their experiences with students who have had problems with gambling. But, again, all we get are vague statements. We learn that "some kids have stolen, sold things to pay their debts." I'm sure that's happened, but I'm sure students have stolen and sold things for reasons other than to pay gambling debts. I once had to sell a couple of books to get enough money to buy food. True, I could've asked my folks for the money, but I had my pride. Pride, not money.

    I don't mean to rip on these people who are actually trying to help young people make good decisions and treat those with problems. I wish them all the luck in the world, and I'm not trying to be funny. But I DO want to rip on the "journalists" who put this piece together. Because let's be honest here--they don't care that there might be college kids with gambling problems. They don't care that the vast majority of people can play poker or gamble without being at risk of becoming addicted. They aren't interested in the debate over whether the government should "protect" the people from activities that are "bad" for them.

    All they care about is coming up with a sensationalist little piece that will grab the audience's attention. Like I said, the fact that they spent far more time and effort on the clever graphics and quick-cuts and recreations of players raking in chips proves that point. Why bother checking the facts? Why even bother gathering facts? Seems like no one else does these days. get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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