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Risks & Disadvantages of Poker (Addiction, Losses, and More)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

poker table with money and gambling chips

For some, poker is the gateway to gambling addiction. I do not personally believe that, but those who have experienced the disadvantages of the game stick firmly to their guns on that one. Before you can decide if poker is good or bad, you might want to consider the pros and cons. For the sake of this article, I am going to specifically look at the possible risks and disadvantages of poker. It is best to know what you are dealing with, right?

Risks and disadvantages of poker:

  1. Poker games take up a lot of time,
  2. You can lose a lot of money,
  3. It can be addictive or habit-forming,
  4. Playing poker online can make you antisocial,
  5. Poker can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle,
  6. Consistent poker playing leads to exhaustion,
  7. If you play poker as a career, you have no set income.

Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it. It is not all bad, though. For every con or disadvantage of poker, there is an advantage and pro too.

Understanding the Possible Disadvantages & Risks of Playing Poker

Now, it is time to take a closer look at each of the disadvantages of playing poker so that we can really understand them. 

1. Poker games take up a lot of time.

In the beginning, learning to play poker could take a considerable amount of time. Once you are up to speed and know what you are doing, playing poker will take up even more of your time. If you play poker every day, chances are that you are going to miss out on quality time with your family. You may start missing appointments, canceling dates and events, and even start to neglect your partner, family, and friends. 

Analog Wall Clock buried under the sand poker

The only way to avoid this is to be very responsible with your approach to poker playing. Set aside specific times for family and loved ones and make sure that you absolutely never rescind on these. If you do, you will start to lose the respect and trust of those nearest and dearest to you. If you find that you are unable to set clear time for play and responsibilities, you need to seek out gambling addiction advice.  

2. You can lose a lot of money.

Everyone knows that as much as you can win at a game of poker, you can also lose a considerable amount of money too. That is where human nature comes in. We are designed to naturally hope, and often that leads to placing bets that are ill-advised. If you hope to win every round, you will quickly find yourself without money or in a lot of gambling debt. 

How do you avoid losing all of your money just because you keep hoping to win? 

When you start playing poker, make sure that you have a gambling fund available. Don’t take out a loan or borrow money from a friend. Rather save enough money to begin your poker playing and only then get started. Absolutely never use personal and household funds to gamble with. 

Only ever gamble with funds that you can actually afford to lose. So, if you are thinking of dipping into your kids’ college fund for a game you are “sure” you are going to win – do not! 

If you find that you are spending money that is intended for groceries, the utility bill, or account payments to fund your poker playing habit, you may need to seek out gambling addiction advice promptly.

3. It can be addictive or habit-forming.

sad man in a casino poker

Anything in life can be addictive, but it seems like poker is among the top “things that are addictive” in the world. Perhaps it is the monetary value attached to each game and that concept of hope that I spoke about earlier. Unfortunately, poker can be highly addictive, and while there is no shame in being addicted (help is available), it is important to be responsible and seek out help if you find that you have formed a habit. 

How do you know if you are addicted to poker? You will know that you have a bad habit or a gambling addiction if you have any of the following symptoms (take action and seek help if you have any of these symptoms):

  • You find that you simply can’t stop wagering regardless of the losses.
  • You often try to recover your losses by placing more bets.
  • You are gambling with money that is intended for other expenses.
  • You often put playing poker ahead of other important life events.
  • You are outraged when you lose a game and can’t relieve the frustration.
  • You are always looking for ways to make more money to play poker with. 

4. Playing poker online can make you antisocial.

You might wonder just how much of an impact online poker can have on a person. Playing poker online is actually more popular than playing poker at a brick and mortar casino. 

The draw to playing poker online is that it is relaxed (you can gamble in your PJs), you do not have to drive so you can enjoy a drink or two, and you do not have to “communicate” with anyone. If you find that you would rather be behind the screen playing poker than connecting with other people, you may be developing an antisocial behavior. 

5. Poker can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

We have all seen the movies where poker games are in full swing in a dark room clouded with cigarette and cigar smoke, whiskey glasses lying everywhere, along with discarded packets of crisps. That is not just a scene in a movie – for some poker setups, that is the reality. 

Playing cards near wineglass of whiskey and cigar poker

Yup, the poker-playing lifestyle can be an unhealthy one. 

For some poker players, that type of environment is a reality. But most casinos do have non-smoking areas and provide meals. For those who spend all day inside the casino, there is always the concern of no sunshine and fresh air. To avoid this type of lifestyle, you can limit the times and days that you play poker – you will need to be very strict with yourself. Make sure that you are not squandering away a healthy lifestyle for another round of losses. 

Professional poker players actually say that they benefit from a healthy lifestyle, so if you feel that you are going down the unhealthy route, stop and take stock of the situation. Eat a healthy diet, make time for exercise, and limit your poker playing to certain hours of the day.

6. Consistent poker playing leads to exhaustion.

Playing poker can sometimes take hours and hours. Some games can be quick when played online, but land casino games are very rarely fast. Imagine this…You get stuck into a game at noon and, suddenly, it’s 8pm in the evening. Where did the time go? It is easy to get lost while playing poker, and along with lost time, you will probably feel exhaustion. 

It is not uncommon for new poker players to spend all day and all night playing poker. Whether you are playing for “dough” or just for fun, you need to make sure that you get enough sleep and do not overdo it. Lack of sleep is actually dangerous for the average human and will only have a negative impact on your game in the end anyway. 

7. If you play poker as a career, you have no set income.

For many people, quitting their job and seeking out a career as a poker player is ‘living the dream’. The idea might seem glamorous in your head, but keep in mind that a professional poker player might win big from time to time, but they have no set income to fall back on every month. That means no monthly salary to rely on. It is great if you have a big win after a big win, but what if you don’t? 

Question mark on dollar banknotes poker

If you have bills to pay, you need to manage your winnings with precision, and you have to ensure that you have your impulses in check. Some say that professional poker playing is a great life lesson in money management. If you plan to play poker as a career, have a strategy to ensure that you save the bulk of your winnings each and every time. You will need to be strict with yourself if you want to ensure that the month ends are smooth each month.

In closing

While there are definitely risks and disadvantages to playing poker, it is important to realize that nothing is ever completely good or completely bad. I believe that poker is somewhere in between. It can be great if handled correctly, and it can be terrible if it is not. You decide what type of poker playing you want to be, but generally, if you are willing to be responsible, your poker playing years should be just fine.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.