How to Avoid Poverty Traps in Poker

min read
A hand revealing two ace poker cards in front of a stack of casino chips.
BetMGM Oct 19, 2022, 11:49 AM

Online poker is an enjoyable pastime packed full of excitement and with many benefits aside from simply having fun putting your unique poker theory and strategy into practice. For example, playing poker online can help you get better at weighing up risks and rewards and making informed decisions when under pressure.

Unfortunately, not everyone approaches the opportunity to play online poker for real money in a responsible way. As a result, they open themselves up to what’s known as “poverty traps” and the resultant financial strain could have far-reaching consequences for themselves and their families. Read on to discover more about poverty traps in poker and how best to avoid them.

What is a poverty trap?

A poverty trap refers to a situation in which it will become increasingly difficult for people to escape poverty once they’re in it. Often, this trap extends from generation to generation, with each generation finding it more and more challenging to provide their children with the basics they need, such as quality education and a balanced lifestyle. 

What are poverty traps in poker?

The sad reality is that many people find themselves stuck in poverty traps as a direct result of irresponsible gambling. This may be because of their own or a family member’s gambling addiction. But, in many cases, it’s because someone saw the opportunity to win a significant amount of money (with the potential to completely transform their lives and those of their family) and decided to go for it (possibly on numerous occasions) despite the fact that they are often no longer able to afford the buy-ins in the first place.

In these instances, most people adopt the so-called “lottery mentality,” which is where they don’t mind potentially losing out on their buy-in because the potential win – no matter how unlikely – will be a complete game changer. But when this life-changing win doesn’t fall into their laps, they themselves fall deeper and deeper into the poverty trap.

How to avoid these traps

The most important rule of gambling is never to wager what you can’t afford to lose – and avoiding poverty traps in poker really is that simple. If you are going to play online poker for money, make absolutely sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons (for fun and entertainment) and not because you’re hoping to win big so that it’ll be easier to pay your bills.

While there is always a chance that you may walk away with a sizable win, especially if you’re a serious poker player with plenty of experience and a great poker strategy, there are no guarantees – other than the fact that you’ll still need to pay your bills at the end of the month regardless of the outcome of the game!

Tips for managing your bankroll

So, how can you become a more responsible gambler and make your bankroll go further? Once you’ve worked out exactly how much money you can afford to bet on poker every week or month, you’ll need to practice sticking to your limit. Don’t be tempted to “chase” your losses or keep up a “winning streak.”

Always be mindful of buy-ins. If you’re playing on a tighter poker budget, do your best to play in poker tournaments or rooms with more affordable buy-ins. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy longer gameplay and get a better “bang for your buck.” The massive jackpot on offer in certain rooms or tournaments might sound incredible, but you’ll need to part with a sizable wad of your money to participate and, as mentioned above, the odds of you actually walking away with that enticing treasure are very low indeed.

Finally, be careful who you associate with. It’s great to have friends who also love playing poker online, but it’s easy to start copying their gambling behavior when you play alongside them. If they tend to make impulsive decisions or aren’t very good at sticking to their limits, it’s better to steer clear. Instead, find yourself some poker friends who consistently practice responsible gambling habits.

Signs of problem gambling

It’s always a good idea to be aware of the signs of problem gambling so that you can take swift action and seek help if you need it. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Constantly thinking about playing your favorite online casino games even while doing other things, such as spending time with loved ones or while at work.
  • Being unable to take a break from gambling without feeling irritable or restless or being unable to take a break at all.
  • Gambling more often than usual and/or exceeding your bankroll limits. 
  • Being unable to stick to the specified amount of time you’ve set aside for gambling.
  • Gambling as a way to avoid acknowledging negative emotions, such as anger, sadness or loneliness.
  • Canceling social plans or events so that you can rather stay home and gamble online or head to the casino.
  • Borrowing money from friends and relatives to continue gambling.

If you experience any of these symptoms of compulsive gambling (or somebody in your family or a friend is), please don’t hesitate to contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline on 1-800-522-4700 for assistance and guidance.

Online poker at BetMGM

BetMGM is a legal online poker platform that supports responsible gambling practices. Play poker in your free time and according to your unique bankroll in various poker rooms with live dealers and real players. Along with live dealer casino games, we also specialize in video poker, online slots, variety games and much more.

Ready to explore our ever-expanding menu of casino classics? Then go ahead and register via our mobile portal. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.