It’s just after federal income Tax Day here in the US, and this reminds me of a question I’ve heard posed to poker players before: “Are poker players valuable members of society?”
Many pros and even recreational players have sort of conflicting feelings about playing a game where your income is earned by taking money from others. Some think that poker players are more of a detriment to society because of this.
But for me, I don’t look at poker in this negative light. In fact, I think we’re valuable members of society by simply pursing our hobby or profession of poker.
We’re earning money on-the-felt, but that’s not all we do. We pay taxes with that money. We take the family out to dinner, buy new clothes for the kids, go to the movies and take vacations. We fly to the next poker destination and rent a car, stay in a hotel and pay tournament fees.
Yes, we play a game for money, but because we spend the money we make we help society function, and we should be proud of that.
Let’s look at this from two perspectives: that of the recreational player and that of the professional player.
The Recreational Poker Player
For recreational players, it’s easy to see how you benefit society.
Let’s say you play once or twice a week at your local casino. How is this a benefit?
Well, first is that you’re spending money on gas to get to the casino. This helps the gas station stay in business, and the gas taxes help service your local schools, roads and infrastructure.
Next, you’re enjoying your time in the casino and assuming you’re a classy person and not berating your fellow players or displaying a terrible attitude, you’re helping everyone enjoy their poker time.
Of course, you get hungry and thirsty, so you order a burger, fries and a beer (or, perhaps, some healthier options). When they’re brought to you, you tip the server. The cooks and servers have jobs thanks to you and your fellow players.
And that chip runner, floorpeople and dealers all have jobs because of the rake y’all are paying.
And when you cash out $100 up, that cashier has a job because of you, too.
And on your way out the door, you wave to the security guard who also has a job, and works to keep you safe, because of your hobby.
Lastly, on the way home you stop and buy your partner some flowers with your winnings. Bam! Flower shop, flower growers and your partner all benefit from your poker hobby.
And all these people and businesses are profiting from your play, so they go and spend money just like you do, and help continue making the world go around and keeping the economy humming.
The Professional Poker Player
Everything said above holds true for professional poker players as well.
But some might argue that professional poker players “just take, take, take” and don’t contribute nearly as much as they, again, take.
A lot of pros travel to play poker. So, they’re contributing to the travel/hospitality industries with flights, rental cars, Uber, hotel or Airbnb and restaurants.
Even cruises to Bermuda to play poker contribute to the cruise line and all its employees and its ports of call.
And assuming pros are doing things the right way, they report their winnings and pay their taxes on Tax Day like the rest of us.
Remember that story of Phil Galfond who used to own two New York City apartments and he connected them with a gigantic slide. How much do you think that cost him? I have no idea, but I imagine he paid a tidy five-figure sum, not to mention the cost of two expensive big city apartments.
The apartment complex and the company he used to install the slide made some nice money because of his poker play!
And what about all those poker pros who do philanthropic stuff like Bernard Lee with his annual Full House Charity drive?
You don’t even have to look any further than right here at Cardplayer Lifestyle, which just announced that the non-profit Poker Gives organization will be a recipient of some proceeds from the next Mixed Game Festival.
There are so many ways that poker players give to various organizations and charities and this goes a long way to contributing to society.
To sum it all up, poker players are valuable members of society, both recreational players and professional players alike.
Don’t focus on just the aspect of taking money from others. Instead, look at the whole picture.
Be proud of being a poker player who contributes to society by spending and donating the money you make.