Gambling behavior is partly the result of varied motivations leading individuals to participate in gambling activities. Specific motivational profiles are found in gamblers, and gambling motives are closely linked to the development of cognitive distortions. This cross-sectional study aimed to predict cognitive distortions from gambling motives in poker players. The population was recruited in online gambling forums. Participants reported gambling at least once a week. Data included sociodemographic characteristics, the South Oaks Gambling Screen, the Gambling Motives Questionnaire-Financial and the Gambling-Related Cognition Scale. This study was conducted on 259 male poker gamblers (aged 18–69 years, 14.3% probable pathological gamblers). Univariate analyses showed that cognitive distortions were independently predicted by overall gambling motives (34.8%) and problem gambling (22.4%) (p < .05). The multivariate model, including these two variables, explained 39.7% of cognitive distortions (p < .05). The results associated with the literature data highlight that cognitive distortions are a good discriminating factor of gambling problems, showing a close inter-relationship between gambling motives, cognitive distortions and the severity of gambling. These data are consistent with the following theoretical process model: gambling motives lead individuals to practice and repeat the gambling experience, which may lead them to develop cognitive distortions, which in turn favor problem gambling. This study opens up new research perspectives to understand better the mechanisms underlying gambling practice and has clinical implications in terms of prevention and treatment. For example, a coupled motivational and cognitive intervention focused on gambling motives/cognitive distortions could be beneficial for individuals with gambling problems.