Poker playing is of serious concern to public health officials because of the risk gamblers run of developing gamblingproblems. To date, few longitudinal studies have examined the variation in gambling behaviors among poker players (PPs). Furthermore, there is little knowledge concerning the PPs’ perception of their changing gambling behavior.
This qualitative study thus aims to: 1) describe and understand PPs’ perception of how their gambling behavior is evolving; 2) understand how PPs explain the change in their gambling behavior; 3) compare the players’ perception to a quantitative measure from the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI).
A convenience sample of 25 poker players was recruited from an ongoing prospective study to participate in this qualitative interview. Thirteen participants were selected because of an increase in their PGSI score and twelve participants due to a decrease.
The majority (19/25) of the PPs perceived a decrease in their poker activities, three perceived an increase, and the other three perceived no change. Players who perceived an increase gave gambling pleasure and financial objectives as an explanation. The PPs who perceived a decrease spoke of less pleasure, time, and opportunities. In this latter group, the perception of half of the players (9/19) agreed with their lower PGSI score; for the other half however (10/19), their perception was contrary to the actual increase in their PGSI score. This study accordingly highlights the difficulty for the gamblers to be aware of their changing gambling behaviors.