By staff writer Chris Phelan

I have a problem.

See, it's found on the internet, but it's not porn. (Lost my password to girlswhoadmirecleverwriting.com.) It's addicting, but it's not drugs. (Leroy jacked up his prices…supply and demand my ass.) It steals away hours of my life and I now suffer from chronic back pain, but it's not extended sex in the missionary position. (“Extended sex”…haha, good one.)

No friends, my problem is online poker.

Or, as I like to call it, better heroin.

(Mom and Dad, if you're reading this, a few things: first of all, I'm pretty shocked that you learned how to use a computer. Last week Mom finally figured out how to use the digital air conditioning dial and now this? Second of all, under no circumstances am I admitting to being involved in pornography, drugs, sex, or Leroys. Grandma will probably be pretty happy to hear about that last one.)

So anyway, let's just say that on a “Best Things In Life” list, online poker ranks at #2, just below “Attending a Duke Lacrosse House Party,” and barely beating out “Boobs.”

The beginning of my weekdays starts off pretty standard: oversleep my first class, go without a shower to my second class because I waste too much time checking away messages and fantasy sports instead of attending to hygiene; then lunch. If I feel particularly not ashamed of the measly weight I can bench, I might hit up the gym.


If you think it's normal for your friends to wear the same clothes every day, you might be an online poker addict.

But as soon as the “wait around for a few hours until everybody is around for dinner” phase of the day comes around, I'm a sucker for online hold'em. I fire up PokerStars and I'm locked in. And at that point in time, no man, beast, or act of God has any effect on me whatsoever. (Yeah, that's right. I'm immune to grizzly bears, get off me.)

Honestly, I don't care if Keira Knightley herself comes busting through my bedroom door, drunk as hell and wanting my body—I'll be damned if I don't squeeze every last possible nickel out of this R1verK1ng dude…and I'll stay up all night if I have to. No, Keira, seriously, hands off the mouse. Stop it! Come on, you just folded pock— …wait is that Dubra on your breath? Aren't you like, rich and famous? And STOP looking at the grizzly, woman!!

When you really get down to it, online poker has some of the most addicting factors ever seen in any kind of game:

1. Skill is involved. You can constantly improve your game. I'm sorry, but if you don't know how to properly raise on the button, then you should just quit and go back to spending your free time playing Snood, or Hit the Penguin With a Baseball Bat and Its Remains Will Go Flying and See Who Can Get it the Farthest…or whatever game is popular at the moment. Or even just play it safe and just keep on downloading those MP3s. No risk there, collegeboy.

2. The “Is this rigged?” factor. Face it, you're dealt a bad beat, and all of a sudden your mind is so full of conspiracy theories Charlie Sheen wants to trade his wife for your wacky brain. But see, we don't know it's rigged. It may be, it may not. But as long as we know there's about a 99.9% possibility that we will hit runner-runner to catch our straight when we bluffed all-in with 3-6 offsuit, we will keep doing it.

3. The extreme pleasure that is derived from typing “thanks for the chips, moron” after you actually HIT your miracle straight on the river.

When you combine those three factors together, online poker is more fun to play than the “Listen to the Weekend Janitors Curse in Spanish as They Find the Giant Puddle of Vomit You Left in the Shower Last Night” game.

(Those poor foreign janitors…the puke is there without fail, but they always seem to act surprised. Ah, to live in their constant state of bewilderment…and low pay…uh, would be terrible actually.)

Anyway, the poker addiction.

I blame this on ESPN. You know, it really wouldn't surprise me if ESPN owns all the online poker websites. Then it would all make sense why they decided to turn ESPN2 into the poker channel during the day—to mesmerize us college kids who have way too much free time on our hands and way too many credit cards in our wallets.

Need proof of this subliminal mind control by ESPN? Well, how about this (trust me, I've seen this happen approximately 782 times…in one night…I was waaaaaaasted):

The next time you and your buddies are sitting in a room chilling out and watching TV, change the channel to ESPN2, or The Travel Channel, or Nickelodeon or whatever network is broadcasting hold'em tournaments these days, and just watch.

Just watch.

And after a few minutes, look at your friends. They're not blinking, they're not breathing. They're in what I like to call “The Trance.”

Keep watching.

After about two or three commercial breaks pass, you will hear the magic words—this singular phrase, proof that this is mind control at its finest:

“Oh man, this just makes me want to play hold'em so bad dude.”

And everybody will nod their heads in agreement, and you'll realize your wallet is burning a hole in your back pocket. And at that very moment you come to the triumphant (yet bizarre) realization that you were put on this earth for one reason, and one reason only: to play online poker right this very instant.

So if you'll excuse me, R1verK1ng is going DOWN.

(Note: Keira Knightley, if you're reading this…just for the record, I would never deny your drunken beautifulness in my bedroom. And by Keira Knightley, I mean any girl.)

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