Poker is a card game that was invented in the United States in the late 1820s (Depaulis, 2008). We found him in the memory of a former soldier, James Hildreth. This was the first mention of poker in 1836. In 1843, a penitent player Jonathan Green mentioned poker in a book devoted to "Game Skills and Disadvantages": the gameplay is particularly destructive-probably more than any other fast-paced card game used today; and It is very common for thousands of dollars to change hands within a minute; and it takes 2 to 5 minutes to strike. It is not uncommon for this to be as low as a quarter of the dollar and rise to several thousand dollars in a few minutes."( Jonathan Green, cited by Depaulis, 2008).

In the early days, poker only used 20 cards. It wasn't until around 1835 that players started playing 52 cards. In France, the first mention of poker (written as "pocker" at the time) was in a text written by Marie de Fontenay in 1855, in which the author reported facts observed during a trip to the United States. In 1858, Émile de La Bédolière quoted poker in French L'histoire de la mode (Depaulis, 2008). Poker has 32 hole cards and is becoming a frequently played game in France. Poker has emerged in the iconic American gambling city of Las Vegas. In 1970, Benny and Jack Binion, owners of the legendary Binion Horse Casino, decided to set up a poker tournament. This is how the World Series of Poker (WSOP) was born and is well-known all over the world. As time goes by, there are more and more events, and some poker players are even legendary. Poker has become a famous game with symbolic significance. This enthusiasm can be seen in the number of participants in the WSOP: in the first edition of 1970, 38 participants competed for the world championship title. In 1982, there were 104 registrations for this event; this number has been growing over the years, reaching a record of 8,773 participants in 2006.

Then, the film industry became interested in poker. In particular, one of the starting points of one of the films often referred to as "Poker Mania" (a term used to describe the public's enthusiasm for poker): This is the 1998 film "Rounders" directed by John Dahl (" Player"). The film traces the journey of a famous poker player played by the famous actor Matt Damon in a fictitious way.

In France, due to the television broadcast of the WSOP and the portrayal of poker in theaters, poker craze has also spread.

The arrival of the Internet will further promote and accelerate the development of poker. There are no existing regulations to regulate these practices and new technical means are emerging. The first online poker site was established in 1990. However, they are still very basic, and they offer the possibility of playing poker with real money against software. The development of peer-to-peer technology as early as 1997 allowed players to compete with each other, not just with operators. The development of online poker has enabled the game to flourish and make it available to everyone. The practice of online poker was passed legislation in France in 2010.

Game instructions

The current form of poker is playing with 52 cards. There are different variants, which can be divided into three series: closed poker, bare card poker (also known as "stud") and community card poker ("flop variant").

Regardless of the variant, the goal of the game is to form a combination to get the best hand. After a few rounds of betting, the player with the best hand wins the pot. However, forming the best combination is not the only way to win tricks: fraudulent in is the occurrence of this situation. To cheat is to deceive your opponent into thinking that your hand is stronger than it actually is, in order to force them to fold and win the pot.

There are many variants of poker. Among them, ARJEL only authorized two variants in France: Texas Holdem (using two private closed cards and five public cards shared by all players) and Omaha (using four closed private cards. Five open communities) brand). No matter which variant, there are two ways to play poker: tournaments or cash games. In a tournament, all players pay the same amount ("registration fee") at the beginning of the game and receive the same number of chips. As the game progresses, players will be eliminated, and the last remaining players will win the game. In cash games, the player can choose the sum to enter the game (but there are minimum and maximum amounts on each table). Then, they directly play chips that represent real money. Unlike tournaments, players can redeem chips or leave the table at any time.

The peculiarities of poker

Poker is one of the most popular game types today (Wood, Griffiths & Parke, 2007). According to statistics from the professional website Poker Players Research (2011), the number of global online poker players increased from 17.8 million in September 2006 to 22.2 million in May 2010.

In recent years, many factors have contributed to the poker boom. Among them, the story of Chris Moneymaker is considered to be one of the starting points for arousing great public interest in poker: The 27-year-old American accountant obtained qualifications on the Internet at a fee of 39 dollars, Won 2.5 million dollars. In 2003, the main event of the World Poker Tournament became the world champion. According to Wood et al. (2007), several factors may influence the public’s growing interest in poker: the participation of many celebrities, especially actors and athletes, the broadcast of tournaments and poker shows on TV, and the possibility of learning to play poker for free on the Internet , Spend very little money.

Shead, Hodgins, and Scharf (2008) believe that the main reason for the poker boom is the real skill elements involved in long-term success. As explained by Liley and Rakow (2010), the main difficulty of poker is to make strategic decisions based on incomplete information. They showed that experienced poker players can have a fairly precise judgment about their probability of winning at a given time in the game. St. Germain and Tenenbaum (2011) perfected these elements, emphasizing that expert and intermediate players have better poker performance than beginners. This is because they place more emphasis on contextual elements, while novice players focus on basic poker considerations and trivial hints (such as luck or curiosity). According to the research of St. Germain and Tenenbaum (2011), one of the characteristics of poker players is the ability to quickly process multiple pieces of information. Interestingly, French law considers poker to be more than just a game of chance:

In November 2011, the Ministry of Budget published a comment in the "Official Journal", which stipulated that "Professional gamblers shall be taxable under conditions that may eliminate or greatly reduce the hazards normally inherent in games of chance [... ]. This position is fully applicable to the conventional practice of poker games, including online games, because poker cannot be regarded as a pure game of chance, and the premise is to exercise under conditions comparable to professional activities. ”

As early as 1989, Brown’s explanation based on many observations of poker games is that to become a successful poker player, three elements are important: understanding and using strategies (assessing probability, analyzing opponents’ words and actions, and Fraud), know how to manage your funds, and be able to recognize and control your emotions. Please note that all these skills can be used in various situations in daily life.

Unlike other games of chance and money, poker is special in that it does not confront players in the "House" (casino or game operator): it directly confronts other players, so in the long run, there is real gain The possibility of profitability (Schwartz, 2006; Boutin, 2010; Bjerg, 2010). So skills and strategy are very important in poker. Nevertheless, chance still affects the outcome of the game: not all talents in the world can determine the card draw. Nevertheless, players can still use certain skills to win: Bluffing, using position in the game, considering probabilities, analyzing opponents and other strategies... Therefore, part of the opportunity cannot completely determine the outcome of the game: the skills of the players present are also important elements. Boutin (2010) therefore emphasized the dynamic and contextual nature of poker opportunities: "When the skill gap between players is large, the impact of the opportunity on the outcome becomes less important. On the contrary, when the players have equal skills Time, the impact of opportunities will increase” (page 127).

Poker: From normal to pathological

Poker practice in France

Poker can be played online or live. In France, both types of behavior are regulated by law. Therefore, live poker can be practiced in casinos and gaming circles as well as in associations.

The law of June 15, 1907 authorized the establishment of casinos (providing slot games and roulette, blackjack and poker tables) in seaside, climate and hot spring resorts, indicating that legislators are willing to restrict this type of casino. Play games occasionally under certain circumstances. Gaming circles are more specific gaming venues that provide table games such as poker, roulette and blackjack. They first existed within the framework of the Association Law of 1901, and then they were finally legalized by the Financial Law of June 30, 1923, which provided that they were submitted to the Ministry of the Interior for revocable authorization and collected "a portion of the tax." Profit (called gross gaming revenue or GGP).

Currently, circles and gambling establishments adopt the decree of May 5, 1947 and the instruction of July 15, 1947 as the regulatory framework. These texts specifically stipulate that the circle must declare its existence and fulfill its obligations. Taxation depends on their income. Paris and several other provinces (Toulouse, Reims...) have competition circles.

The gaming circle is a very special gaming venue with a certain prestige and is often patronized by relatively wealthy customers. They usually operate as private clubs and members must pay an annual membership fee.

However, in recent years, these circles have seen the development and significant increase of their customer base. More and more players from different social and cultural backgrounds are signing up for gambling activities. The relatively new development of poker is not for nothing: within a few years, the game has won widespread attention. The real fashion object makes players often go to the game circle to indulge in practice.

Live poker can also be played in associations. Unlike casinos and gambling circles, in casinos and gambling circles, mandatory bets are often very large bets, while poker in a contextual environment is meant to have no bets. In France, there are many non-profit poker clubs, all governed by the Association Act of 1901. The membership of these clubs is usually low, and the opportunity to participate in many games is provided for free each year (usually once a week). .These games are usually part of an annual tournament where players are rewarded based on their performance. As financial rewards are prohibited, the winners will receive prizes. The joint practice of poker aims to align poker players and promote friendly games without financial risks.

Live poker has various advantages for players, such as social aspects, sensory stimulation, and the possibility of facing opponents directly and using psychological strategies (analysis of player behavior, bluffing, etc.) These aspects do not exist in online poker practice, which is privileged due to its fast and easy-to-access aspects (whether geographically or financially: it is indeed possible to play online games for free or spend little there. Money). Players believe that online games are more technical and can learn faster (Barrault, Untas and Varescon, 2014).

In view of the development of online gambling, legislators decided to legislate its behavior in 2010. The law covers all online games, including poker. Although the law provides protection for players, this change has caused many dissatisfaction among poker players. The legal division has several consequences for French players: they can only play games among the French, thereby reducing the number of game tables provided and guaranteeing donations to the game; higher financial taxes, reducing possible profits and increasing Lost.

Nevertheless, poker is still a very popular game in France, especially online games. The ARJEL report (ARJEL, 2011) published in November 2011 reports the French enthusiasm for online poker: in 2011, nearly 797,000 active player accounts (the term "active player accounts") were discovered. "Refers to a personal gaming account used regularly). In the last quarter of 2011, 275,000 accounts were active every week. Among these active players, 60% have sat at a cash game table at least once, and 80% have participated in a tournament at least once. ARJEL also emphasized the characteristics of very active regular players: a small number of players (1%) are responsible for 60% of cash game bets and 36% of tournament bets. 10% of the most active players are responsible for 90% of cash game bets and 78% of tournament bets.

Introduction to Poker Players

Data from the literature highlights the specific sociodemographic characteristics of poker players. In a sample of 245 regular players, Barrault and Varescon (2012) highlighted the following characteristics: Most poker players are male (97%), young (average age is 29), and often managers (31%) or employees ( 21)%), full-time work (52%) or students (21%), among which the proportion of singles is high (55%).

This distribution seems to be relatively far from the distribution of pathological gamblers described in the literature, especially in France. The OFDT prevalence study (2011) did show that too many gamblers are more male (75.6%), with an average age of 41 years, couples live together (55.2%), and are often in unstable financial conditions (57 % (Income less than 1100 Euros), and almost all students have a level of study lower than or equal to a bachelor's degree.

In this study, the most common types of gambling performed by excessive gamblers are Rapido (Multi-Day Instant Lottery), PMU (Horse Racing Betting) and sports betting, which can explain the differences observed in sociodemographic data.

On the other hand, the image of a poker player is very similar to the online player described by Griffiths, Parke, Wood and Rigbye (2010) and Gainsbury, Wood, Russel, Hing, and Blaszczynski (2012): the online game player is a young, single, A well-educated and responsible male.

However, from a sociodemographic point of view, it seems that this particularity of poker players cannot be attributed solely to the use of internet media, as long as this profile also applies to live players (Barrault and Varescon, 2012). The preference for poker seems to be the most relevant explanation for these peculiarities. Therefore, poker seems to be a game, which is characterized by attracting a completely different group of players.

Indeed, one of the main characteristics of poker is the coexistence of skill and strategy and opportunity elements (Shead et al., 2008), which is one of the main characteristics of poker's great success. Browne (1989) emphasized the importance of several elements to be a poker winner: use strategy, good financial management, and the ability to recognize and control your emotions. Therefore, poker is correctly regarded as a game where the skill gap is beneficial to players, so there may be "good" and "bad" players (Boutin, 2010). For a long time, due to his abilities and skills, the real possibility of becoming a winner, the possibility of not involving but not involving skills in the game of chance and money may attract another public who is interested in the strategic component, namely learning and improvement Opportunity. This can explain the strong representation of executives and students among poker players, because these two categories usually include individuals with certain habits, especially hobbies and reflective interests, which are important elements in poker. The practice of poker involves many fields, such as mathematics, statistics, psychology and management.

The prevalence and risk factors of pathological gambling

The structural characteristics of poker make it a game different from pure chance games. Therefore, excessive poker games may have different performance than described in the literature. Poker, especially online poker, seems to be extremely addictive: 9% (Hopley and Nicki, 2010) to 18% (Wood et al., 2007) of ordinary poker players are pathological players. Halme (2010) showed in a study of the general population that among regular gamblers, 19.2% met the criteria for excessive gambling. According to Wood and Williams (2009), poker is the most problematic game for online players.

Data from the literature highlights certain risk and vulnerability factors of pathological gambling among poker players.

Research by Wood et al. (2007) showed that like other types of gambling, students are vulnerable to poker-related gambling problems. Of the 422 students who participated in the study, 18% reported gambling problems. However, the money lost most of the time seemed to be small (53% of participants were under 10 pounds, ranging from 10 to 50 pounds). [1] Accounted for 38%). Compared with gamblers in social or entertainment activities, participants with gambling problems played games more frequently and reported greater economic losses. This group of authors believes that the main predictors of gambling problems in this population are: negative emotional states (anxiety, internal, sadness, etc.) after gambling. Gambling is to avoid problems in daily life and to express yourself and the opposite sex in the game Membership (pseudonym/have a picture of a man when a man is a woman, and vice versa. According to reports, the incidence of "gender swaps" is 20% for women and 12% for men).

Other studies have also identified predictors of online poker gambling problems: time spent, disintegration during the game, boredom, impulsivity and vulnerability to negative emotions (depression, anxiety and stress) (Hopley and Nicki, 2010), But they also tend to lie about gender ("gender swap"), the fact that they spend more than planned and often play for a long time (Griffiths et al., 2009).

The normal and pathological practices of poker also seem to involve certain personality traits. Barrault and Varescon (2013a) compared pathological and non-pathological conventional poker players, and found that Zuckerman (1972) defined the search for the senses, seeking diverse, novel and complex senses and experiences to maintain a high level of excitement is a trait for all poker It's common for players, whether morbid or not. Therefore, poker players are demanding people who satisfy their senses, and they can satisfy their thrilling needs. The results of a qualitative study confirmed this hypothesis, in which poker players emphasized their idea of ​​seeking excitement through poker (Barrault et al., 2014). On the other hand, impulse distinguishes pathological gamblers from non-pathological gamblers (Barrault & Varescon, 2013a). This personality trait is characterized by low sensitivity to the negative consequences of behavior, rapid and unplanned response to stimuli before comprehensive information processing, and lack of consideration of long-term consequences (Moeller, Gerard, Barrat, Dougherty, Schmitz And Swann, 2001)) seems to be a predictor of pathological gambling among poker players (Barrault and Varescon, 2013a; Hopley and Nicki, 2010).

Therefore, impulsivity and seeking feeling are two dimensions of personality involved in poker practice, but they seem to play different roles: seeking feeling will limit the interest in playing poker, and impulse will play a role. Excessive practices in installation and maintenance.

Therefore, it seems that certain risk factors that may lead to poker gambling problems can be seen in the literature: the presence of negative emotional states (anxiety, stress and depression), the time spent playing, the sense of separation during the game, impulse and sex of lying.

The details of poker addiction

The details of poker seem to have an impact on how addiction manifests. In the literature on pathological gambling, economic losses take center stage. However, it seems that in poker, the problem lies not only in the financial aspects, but in the social, emotional, and professional consequences of excessive poker practice (Barrault et al., 2014). Indeed, in qualitative research, these authors show that poker players are aware of the risks associated with excessive poker practice, regardless of whether they are in a pathological state, and distinguish financial risks from social and psychological risks. Although all participants recognize that there are financial risks, few report that they have actually suffered such consequences.

As Bjerg (2010) said, poker addiction can be expressed in other ways than finances. In fact, in player discussions, the focus is on the social and psychological consequences of excessive poker practice: therefore, too many players report social and emotional difficulties associated with their game practice. Therefore, problem gamblers often report that socialization, negative emotions (depression and anxiety), and time spent playing games are harmful to other activities (Barrault et al., 2014).

Bjerg proposed in 2010 that in poker, loss of control occurs on two levels: one is internal (such as game strategy, self-control), and the other is external (such as the number of gameplay, frequency of games). The loss of internal control is related to a phenomenon known to poker players as tilt. Tilt can be defined as the process of losing control during the game. The most common reason is that players have accumulated unfair losses or statistically unlikely events during the game (Palomäki, Laakasuo and Salmela, 2013). These events cause players to produce a lot of negative emotions (depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, etc.), leading to deterioration of the decision-making process. Described by players as an inherent tendency of the game itself, tilt seems to have nothing to do with gambling problems. As early as 1989, Brown explained that all poker players have experienced tilt, but pathological players are less able to regain control after the tilt is induced. Therefore, their difference lies in the duration and frequency of the tilt. Qualitative research (Barrault et al., 2014) also emphasized the link between tilt and excessive gambling: non-pathological gamblers tend to report strategies to avoid tilt (such as resting or stopping the game), which is different from excessive gamblers who report frequent and intense Of people in the tilt event.

A strong impulse may help tilt. These two concepts should be compared, as long as both of them imply decreased decision-making ability and are associated with pathological gambling. In addition, Palomaki et al. (2013) shows that the tilting process is usually triggered by losses that the subject considers unfair. Therefore, it is appropriate to question the relationship between object and opportunity appropriately.

Randomness and cognitive distortion

The coexistence and mutual influence of chance and skill in the outcome of poker games are important factors for understanding and caring for pathological gamblers. Although it seems impossible to quantify the components of skill and strategy in the game, these elements seem to be often overestimated by players. Therefore, despite the loss, this may still lead to continued gambling, and players fantasize that they can win with their skills.

The hallucination of control is one of the most common cognitive distortions in gambling. Langer (1975) defines it as "the expectation of personal success is significantly greater than the guarantee of objective possibility" (p. 313). Through superstitious behaviors or thoughts, the subjects believed that they influenced the outcome of the game, thus negating the important part of luck and chance. According to the author, men project their beliefs about events that they can control onto uncontrollable events such as gambling, and the results of these events can be controlled by traditional methods, which can be controlled by traditional methods.

In the context of pathological gambling, some studies have shown that hallucinations of control affect gambling, which is conducive to the development of greater gambling and greater financial adventure (Delfabbro and Winefield, 2000; Ladouceur, Gaboury, Dumont and Rochette, 1987) .

Facts have proven that the role of cognitive distortions or false beliefs related to gambling in the onset and maintenance of pathological gambling is no longer confirmed (Miller and Curie, 2007; Griffiths, 1994; Toneatto, Blitz-Miller and Calderwood, 1997). . However, in poker, due to the actual existence of some strategies and techniques, these distortions may be different. The data from the literature is relatively heterogeneous: Mitrovic and Brown (2009) did not find any difference in cognitive distortion between pathological and non-pathological conventional poker players; Linnet, Froslev, Ramsgaard, Gebauer, Mouridsen, and Wohlert (2011) showed that pathological poker players are associated with inexperience Of poker players show the same decision-making and estimation bias, while experienced poker players do not. The pathological performance is much better than these two groups. These authors believe that pathological poker players do not lack knowledge of probability (Lambos and Delfabbro, 2007), but deliberately choose to make risky bets. Sévigny and Ladouceur's (2003) concept of "double conversion" can explain this effect: the participant oscillates between two cognitive states: one considers probability in an objective and rational way, and the other considers activities and behaviors. Information is the center. The result (financial gain).

Barrault and Varescon (2013b) showed that pathological poker players exhibit stronger cognitive distortions (control hallucinations, predictive control, perceived inability to stop the game and interpretation bias) than non-pathological players. Their results indicate that the illusion of control is the distortion most related to pathological gambling and a prediction of it. Two qualitative studies (Bjerg, 2010; Barrault et al., 2014) investigated the cognitive distortions of poker players, and the results showed that there are irrational factors when assessing the player's game level: these tend to overestimate their own abilities. The emergence of substantial benefits seems to promote and strengthen this belief. The coexistence of opportunity and strategy in poker does seem to complicate the relationship between the subject and the attributional bias of opportunity and preference. The loss is attributed to bad luck and the improvement of player skills. Therefore, this prejudice tends to perpetuate gambling.


Poker has the characteristics of chance and strategy intertwined, which makes it a game in addition to the game of chance and money. Very popular games that can be played on the Internet or live (casino, gaming circle or association). Considering the popularity of the game and its potential addictiveness, it seems important to study the socio-demographic and psychological characteristics of poker players (whether pathological or not). These people are mostly men, young people who pursue emotions. This game can indeed meet their needs for excitement and novelty.

Certain factors, such as disintegration in the game, negative emotions (anxiety and frustration), tilt, impulsivity and cognitive distortion, seem to be related to the installation and maintenance of gambling problems by gamblers. poker. Therefore, future research can more accurately study the role of these variables in pathological gambling and the relationship between them. It also seems important to consider these factors in the management and prevention of pathological gambling by poker players.

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