Mobile online poker for the benefit of mankind
What games do the smartest people play? Bridge? Chess? Magic: The Gathering?
Well, we can actually look at the question from a Darwinian point of view and more or less prove which game attracts the smartest people. It pretty much has to be poker, because, as Madonna sang to us many years ago, we are living in a material world.
People gravitate to where there is the most money. So even if there are smart people playing these other games, the smartest ones would be inclined toward playing poker where they can make the most money.
We've seen several countries crack down on online poker. The main reason is politics, but another reason is some people fear that some of the smart kids who were going to be their brightest doctors and engineers were enjoying themselves more playing online poker than they were going to class and getting that education.
Even back in my day, I played a lot of poker in college -- in fact, I was already a professional player. But I did something then that I think is absolutely essential to becoming a professional poker player, and that is to fit poker into my non-poker schedule and not the other way around.
My life wasn't totally determined by my poker schedule. Instead, I had poker revolve around my life. What that meant was during the day I went to my classes, and then I engaged in sports and social activities after class. I usually played poker in the evenings and on the weekend, and I ended up graduating by age 20.
I never let poker stop me from following the ancient philosophers' mantras: "have a sound mind and body" and "everything in moderation." I would say that if you are successful at poker, it doesn't dominate your life, but rather it complements your life.
Now that we are noting the 10th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP Main Event, we might recall what happened next. After Moneymaker's win, a lot of people followed that poker dream and spent their late teenage years and early 20s tethered to their computers in their parents' basements. Then, when they finally came out to go to the televised PCA or WSOP events, many of them were pale, out-of-shape, socially awkward nerds. It was certainly something to be questioned: whether or not poker was good for society.
This is where mobile online poker comes into play. By allowing people to play on the go, it gives these young people a chance to go to class, to play sports, and--in the spaces between those activities---to pull out their iPads or Android devices and play during their downtimes.
I'm not referring to filling all of one's free time with poker, such as in that brilliant Rafa Nadal commercial in which he's playing while walking around. However, mobile online poker allows these bright young people a way to play poker while enabling them to lead a balanced life. They'll be able to play, but they'll also still be able to get their education, compete in sports, and have a well-rounded life.
I expect the next wave of poker players to be much better, much more socially adjusted, and also more likely to get their education. Mobile online poker can help these young, intelligent people achieve that goal of finding a good balance and being productive members of society while also playing a game which many of them are naturally going to want to play.
Barry Greenstein is a member of Team PokerStars Pro