Title

Because It’s FREE Poker! A Qualitative Analysis of Free Texas Hold’em Poker Tournaments

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Publication Source

Sociological Spectrum

Volume

29

Issue

3

Inclusive pages

401-430

ISBN/ISSN

02732173

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

The game of poker has dramatically increased in popularity in America over the past decade, and includes a new trend in poker where tournaments are played with no monetary wagering. These “free” poker tournaments are the primary focus of this project. Our interest in these free poker tournaments was twofold: first, we wished to identify what would motivate a person to play poker when there is no profit motive; second, we wanted to learn how the social dynamics of the game itself may or may not change when monetary risk is not present. Through covert participant observation of free poker tournaments at four different locations we were able to discover three main motivations among the players: sharpening skills for later cash games, sociability, and gaining the status of a ‘regular player’. We also discovered that the tenor and tempo of the game tended to vary not as a function of the location, but rather because of the social class of the players. We offer several hypotheses to guide future research endeavors in this area.

Keywords

Poker, Gambling, Motivations, Ephemeral Role, Gaming Encounter, Social Class

Disciplines

Sociology

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