aniel Cates looks at the cards onthe screen o his old Sony lap-top—a ten and a jack. The dealerops a nine, a seven, and a king.That gives Cates nothing. I thenext card’s an eight or a queen, he’ll have astraight and will likely win the hand, but is it worth it to call his opponent’s bet o $1,400 tosee another card? He’s got seconds to decide—in the world o online Texas Hold ’Em, thou-sands can be won or lost very quickly. At 20, Cates isn’t old enough to set ootinside a casino, but like an increasing numbero college students, he gambles online. And intwo years he’s become one o the best, rack-ing up winnings o more than $2 million. An economics major at the University o Maryland and a graduate o the science-and-technology program at Greenbelt’s EleanorRoosevelt High School, Cates always hasbeen good with numbers. Ater depositing $300 into his onlineaccount in August 2007, he has slowly movedup the online-poker ranks. Cates now playsor thousands o dollars at a time. He saysit’s important to orget what the numbers onthe screen represent—that he’s just bet theequivalent o a semester’s tuition or a mid-size car on a hand.Cates is simultaneously playing handsat three other tables, and his screen ashesas he receives an instant message rom anonline acquaintance. His cell phone rings.It’s his sister. “Oh, yeah—I was supposed topick her up rom school,” he says. “She can wait a ew more minutes.”The legality o online poker is a gray area, saysKeith Whyte o the National Council on Prob-lem Gambling. In 2006, Congress passed alaw making it illegal to transer money romUS banks to gambling Web sites.“There’s many ways around it,” Whytesays. Gambling sites such as Full Tilt Pokerand PokerStars are headquartered in places where online gambling is legal, and bothaccept American players and bank accounts.“It’s unclear whose laws apply,” Whyte says.“Is it the country where the player is locatedor the country where the site is located?”Many young people are more than willing
Daniel Cateshas beenknown to playmore thanten hours ofpoker a day,sometimesbettingthousands ona single hand.
Photograph by Chris LeamanBy Jason Koebler
He’s not old enough to play in a casino, but alone in his parents’ basementhe’s won millions playing Texas Hold ’Em.