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Students Are “All In” on Gambling

Micah Temple
A poker game in Piedmont

The felt is green, the blinds are big. Hands are moving, chips are stacked high, and money is on the line. This is no casino; it’s a Piedmont student’s basement.

Despite being illegal in California, gambling has become a popular pastime for some Piedmont students.

“It’s surprising how many kids do it, especially upperclassmen guys. It’s definitely seen as a fun activity,” senior George Stein said.

Stein said that parents often know their kids are gambling with other students, but they don’t see it as a serious issue.

“I know guys that have made hundreds of dollars betting on games, but I also know guys that have lost that much. They skip through the 18-only warnings on the apps and just put money down” senior Quincy Scherman said.

Scherman said he thinks the initial draw is the money that can be made through the various forms of gambling, but once students start, there are a variety of reasons why they choose to continue, from online sports betting to social recognition. 

“For a lot of people, it isn’t even about the money. They end up learning more about teams and players through sports gambling, and it’s a fun thing kind of like March Madness,” Scherman said.

Scherman said that the most popular game played is Texas Hold’em poker. 

Senior Scott Cooley said he hasn’t participated, but has been around when other students play Texas Hold’em. “When people sit down to play a game like Texas Hold’em, they will set a buy-in, like 10 or 20 dollars, and run through [poker] hands until the game ends. With a lot of guys and buying back in, there can be hundreds of dollars on the table,” Cooley said. 

Texas Hold’em is a popular variant of poker, in which players “buy in” with a set amount of money represented by chips, with the opportunity to buy in again if they lose everything. 

“Some people use a lot of strategy, but some guys will pause between hands and literally roll dice and bet on it. Something about the chance of winning really gets them to do irrational things” Stein said.

Freshman River Westphal said he’s seen groups of freshmen as well as sophomores gamble for money at each other’s houses.

“I know kids in every grade that gamble and bet on sports games. It’s less common for freshmen, but there are small groups of kids that do it together,” Westphal said.

Westphal said that there isn’t much mixing of grades when it comes to gambling in Piedmont, and that it’s almost exclusively male students he’s seen playing.

“I’ve heard of senior boys playing cards for money, but I haven’t really seen any girls that do it,” junior Sophena Tuli said.

According to the career search service Zippia, only 5% of professional poker players are female, compared to the 95% male majority. Stein said he thinks that most students would welcome anyone into a game of poker, regardless of their gender identity.

“Obviously gambling is illegal for minors. I think it’s seen as just another game, but it brings kids together, so it’s helpful in that way” Stein said.

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About the Contributor
Micah Temple
Micah Temple, Managing Editor
Micah Temple (12) is a managing editor for TPH. Outside of school, he works as a lifeguard, swims for several teams, and is an intern at the Piedmont Post. Micah is also a tenor for the Piedmont Troubadours, plays jazz piano, and enjoys going to the gym with his friends.
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