Poker players with experience and skill are not “ill” – Exposing a discrepancy in measures of problem gambling

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Many studies suggest that in poker, “amount of money wagered” and “time spent playing” are prominent predictors of problem gambling. These observations are in discord with anecdotal and empirical evidence. Due to the inherent skill component in poker, active players who play for long hours attempting to make a profit – sometimes by wagering large amounts of money – might be labeled as problem gamblers despite having high levels of well-being and financial agency. In three on-line correlative studies, we assessed the associations between poker experience, problem gambling (the South Oaks Gambling Screen [SOGS] and the Problem Gambling Severity Index [PGSI] scores) and various measures of social and emotional well-being, self-control and emotion regulation. Problem gambling severity predicted reduced well-being, self-control, and increased social anomie and detrimental emotion regulation. Experienced poker players reported high problem gambling severity, but none of the adverse consequences therein. Therefore, a discrepancy was exposed concerning the validity of SOGS and PGSI. We conclude that these measures may not be valid in assessing “problematic”/detrimental gambling in poker playing populations, especially in the case of experienced players, who play for long hours in order to make money– the concepts of problem gambling and poker experience seem to be disentangled.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Gambling and Commercial Gaming Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology

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