Senior Nick Rampone has been playing online poker for two and a half years.
At the onset of his poker playing, Rampone said his parents were apprehensive about him keeping up with his studies.
“My buddies and I were playing online poker a lot,” he said. “Then, when we all went off to different colleges, we wanted to still play together, and so we played online.”
Rampone usually plays poker online four or five times a week.
“It’s like a full-time job,” he said.
According to a 2007 national survey of youth, conducted by the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute of the Annenburg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, there was a significant drop in weekly use of Internet gambling among college-age persons from 5.8 percent to 1.5 percent in 2006.
Contrary to the Annenburg survey, Rampone said he has not noticed a decline.
“There are tournaments that people sign up for, and the number of people that sign up has been increasing steadily over the past year,” he said.
Poker players are frustrated with the game’s continual attribution to gambling because it is a game of skill, he said.
“Although it has many of the same qualities of gambling, the element of skill is also a huge part,” he said.
Rampone’s online poker dexterity allowed him the opportunity to compete in the 39th World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas.
“It was all filmed right around Fourth of July weekend,” he said. “The part of the tournament I was in lasted about a week. The whole time I was there, there were cameras all around me constantly, and I never knew if they were going to show me or not,” Rampone said
Being among 7,000 players, chances were slight that Rampone would be on television; he never really thought he would be featured, nor did he think too much of it, he said.
“After the first hour or two, I got used to the cameras being around and all the buzz,” he said of his television debut in the poker tournament, which aired Oct. 7 on ESPN.
Rampone placed 327th and collected $32,000 in prize money from the tournament and said he is up even more than that in winnings overall.
“With all my poker money in general, I took a trip to Europe last year,” Rampone said.
As far as future plans for his poker winnings, Rampone said he has not spent a tremendous amount as he trying to save his money to buy a home. However, he said he has been known to throw some “festive” birthday parties.
He is proof that positive outcomes can be derived from playing Internet poker.