POKER - the card game, not Wittgenstein's - seems to have taken many by storm, especially college students. Its ethical (not to mention legal) status, however, eludes us. Is it unethical to play poker? If your answer to this question relies on conceiving of poker as "gambling", then would poker tournaments, in which an entry fee is paid and one cannot lose more than that entry fee (your chips no longer represent real money), deserve the same appraisal? Is gambling unethical, and is there any such thing as something being inherently addictive, or do different people just get addicted to different things because of who they are?
Here's a preliminary thought: Our socio/economic system is rather unjust, with many poor people and a few very rich ones. At the poker table, however, a just meritocracy exists: those with intelligence win and climb up the economic ladder. Win one poker tournament for $5, and you now have the entry fee for 5 more such tournaments. For intelligent people currently working minimum wage jobs, this sounds like a real opportunity. What about the chance (so called "luck") element? Well, that doesn't, in my opinion, discount the fact that there's a meritocracy. There is lots of chance in real life, starting with the socio-economic status of your parents, or the fluctuations of the market that leave people out of jobs, or the career-promoting connections you may accidentally have stumbled upon. So, who agrees with my conclusion that a society of poker players is an exemplar for a just society?