Performance-enhancing drugs are a problem in all of the major sports and now the world of poker has to be aware of it as well. As the game has grown in popularity over the last decade, there have been a ton of changes. The purses are higher, more people are getting into it and professional poker leagues are growing by the day. However, as players are taking part in longer games, drugs have crept into the scene and some are wondering if it is time that a program go into effect to keep players clean.
To an outsider looking in, it's fair to wonder why someone would need drugs in poker. However, those in the game know it's become a significant factor. There are some players that take drugs to keep them going for those marathon sessions at the table while others do it to stay relaxed and calm their nerves. The question is whether there is a point that drugs become an unfair advantage to those who are taking them.
The Global Poker League is a league that might be looking into making their players take drug tests in order to level the playing field. The Global Poker League is trying to carve its name out in the eSports landscape (eSports also includes those that play video games for a living). Advocates for drug testing feel that the Global Poker League will be even bigger if they institute a drug-testing policy, one that is very similar to the programs of the professional sports like Major League Baseball and the National Football League. If the Global Poker League executes this policy properly, it would not only level the playing field but some experts are suggesting that they can attract more sponsors as a result, which would make for bigger prize purses.
The issue is whether or not enough people take this problem seriously and whether or not it is a problem to begin with. And even if it is, where is the line drawn? If players are popping caffeine pills to stay awake, is that a problem? Or is the line drawn with prescription drugs? Some players take forms of amphetamines to improve their focus, should that be banned? Of course, concerns about marijuana are sure to be part of the discussion.
The other challenge will be to get the leagues on the same page. Everyone would have to come together to figure out a policy that works all the way around. That means the Global Poker League, the World Poker Tour, the World Series Of Poker and other leagues would have to be consistent. Beyond that, who is going to implement the testing and pay for it? The major North American sports have budgets for this sort of thing with teams of people that administer the tests, monitor the players and apply penalties. The poker world would have to come together to appoint a body or organization that will take on this task.
While there are a lot of details left to discuss, don't be surprised if this gets ironed out in the next year or so. There's no debating that there are drugs in poker, but the question is how to deal them out.