Poker Players With Experience and Skill Are Not ‘‘Ill’’: Exposing a Discrepancy in Measures of Problem Gambling

Michael Laakasuo, Jussi Palomäki, Mikko Salmela

Abstract


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 skill component inherent 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 stability. In three online correlative studies, we assessed the associations between poker experience, problem gambling (as indicated by the South Oaks Gambling Screen [SOGS] and the Problem Gambling Severity Index [PGSI]) and various measures of social and emotional well-being, self-control and emotion regulation. Problem gambling severity predicts reduced well-being and self-control, increased social anomie, and detrimental emotion regulation. Experienced poker players exhibited high problem gambling severity, but none of the adverse consequences thereof. Thus, 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 should be disentangled.

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References


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