Teenage Poker Players Go 'All In' Online

Teens too young to enter casinos make thousands playing poker on the Internet.

ByABC News
August 23, 2010, 4:13 PM

Aug. 24, 2010— -- What happens in Vegas often happens at the poker table, but many of the winners raking in huge jackpots aren't even old enough to enter a casino.

From Texas Hold 'Em to Five-Card Stud, online poker games have allowed teenagers to become expert card players long before they turn 21, when it's legal for them to play in the real Sin City.

Watch the full story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m.

Last year's World Series of Poker champion, Joe Cada, is only 22. As the youngest player to have ever won the WSOP, he now gets his own security escort and private parties when he comes to Las Vegas.

He attributed the internet, where he could play more than 2,000 hands of poker a day, to his huge success.

There's a whole new generation of teens right behind him who have had the same revelation: you can get good -- very good -- at poker starting at a very young age without ever leaving your house.

A recent national study from the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders estimated over 70 percent of Americans, ages 14 to 19, have gambled in the past year. Researchers at University of California-Berkeley also found in a separate study that 19.6 percent of young men gamble online regularly.

For Cada, playing poker is his life. It became his passion once he started playing online with a group of friends and realized he was good at it.

"I was always the quieter type. I didn't really go out much and I just stayed in and played cards," he said.

Practice is what made Cada so perfect at playing poker, and after losing some money at first, he eventually started to pull in the big bucks -- as a teenager.

"One day I just kept winning and I won $4,000 ... I remember I went to school and told my friend Mike I was going to get to $10,000 by the end of the week," Cada said. "I went home, kept winning, next thing I know I got up to $15-$20,000 by the end of the week."

Blaine Brount is not far behind him.

A college student at the University of Illinois, the 19-year-old spent his summer teaching drum lessons at the high school he used to attend in Gurnee, Ill. and playing online poker. But Brount doesn't just play for the bragging rights. To him, it's a second job.