Poker is the latest game craze sweeping across the nation. Poker is an addictive sport that has been quickly gaining interest from all walks of life. Players enjoy the instant gratification of being able to win a large sum of money in a short amount of time. Ordinary people have become overnight millionaires by playing in these marathon tournaments hosted by websites such as Judi online terpercaya that can last several days. Poker is merely a card game. A game of strategy and luck, it can last several hours and cause a twinge of emotional pain or intense jubilation among its players. Participating in a poker tournament may be considered an enjoyable pastime but it can also provide a venue for observing interesting behavior patterns in people.
Most often, the persons involved in a poker game are males ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s. There are women who play the game but they are usually outnumbered by about 10-1. Celebrity poker tournaments on TV are usually the most widely know or commonly seen but average people play in many games on a regular basis in almost every city in America. Observing the behavior of these players is where I gleaned my information and experience. Being a player in these regular tournaments allows me the opportunity to observe the behavior of the players on a regular basis and gives me a solid basis for my findings. Texas hold-em is the most commonly played variation of poker and the rules are quite simple: The dealer will deal two cards face down to about nine players around an oval table.
After betting between each deal and the community cards known as the “flop”, “turn”, and “river”, the remaining players will make a final bet and the dealer will declare a winning hand. That player is given all the chips bet during that hand. Play continues as each player is eliminated and one player is left holding all the chips.
The obvious intentions of the players involved are the desire to knock out all other opponents and win the tournament. The consequences of the event, of course, are losing the tournament and missing out on winning the prize and prestige accompanying that title. A competitive nature exists in each of the players. A “me against the world” mentality prevails because there is only one winner. The relationship of the players involved almost always begins as complete strangers. However, during the course of the tournament, some players will often form alliances with or vendettas against certain other players. Once a player has been knocked out he or she will often stay near the table to witness the rest of the tournament and to cheer on a fellow player. Over time, bonds are formed between players who meet regularly or play against each other often. The bonds formed are mostly that of an adversary or a comrade, depending on the style of the players involved or their first impression of each other.
There are times; however, where friendships are ignited and a strong bond will be forged into a tight alliance and lasting friendship. Being outnumbered by the men can sometimes offer me an advantage in my playing style. I can be seen as the “Queen of the table”, winning most of the hands or the “dumb broad” who knows nothing about the game. Either way, I can use feminine influence to my advantage. Winning is not always my objective but the by-product. I play because I enjoy the game and learning from others. Some players can become overbearing and demanding which often results in being loathed or ridiculed by other players. The common goal is to be the only one left with all the chips but because there is only one winner, some players will often form alliances with certain players in order to help each other or to gang up on another.
The overall atmosphere of these games is one of enjoyment. Rarely is there a confrontation between players that will result in an explosive shouting match. Even when the player least liked by all the other participants is the chip leader, the overall mood of the room remains contained. There becomes an advantage to playing with the same players on a regular basis. The habits of a player become more apparent to the others and it becomes more difficult for him or her to bluff a hand. The players begin to recognize body language and facial expressions that will sometimes give their hand away and spoil their strategy. The disadvantage of playing with unfamiliar opponents is that it is not as easy to read facial expressions and body language or to determine whether or not a bluff call will hold up. Sometimes players will practice aggressive play by bullying other players with their chip stack.
Seasoned players are almost always revered and feared. They can use their implied authority to their advantage but they also risk having the rest of the players’ gang upon him. A novice player sometimes has an advantage by getting lucky and having all the cards just go his way. This will happen at times since the game is still considered to be based on the luck of the draw. A new player will not continue to just get lucky, sooner or later, he or she will need to learn the basic strategy of the game in order to gain confidence and experience by playing more often.
The Dealer is an important piece of the strategic puzzle. All players rely on the dealer to accurately count the chips, decide the winning hand, and enforce any rule infractions. The dealer has a responsibility to maintain integrity and accountability by being totally aware of everything happening at the table at all times and maintaining a sense of control throughout the tournament. Dealers are people who have played the game for a long time or have gone to school to be trained to become dealers. The dealer must remain unbiased and show no favor to any particular player. He must remain neutral at all times during play and cannot allow for players to make side bets. The dealer can become distracted by the actions of the players and will sometimes make mistakes. This is rare and most often the Tournament Director will intervene before a problem arises.
Most dealers enjoy working in an environment in which they feel like they are not working because they love the game. Dealers can also become fond of certain players or vice versa. Sometimes a player will prefer to sit at a certain dealer’s table simply because he or she believes that the dealer will bring him or her luck.
After the experience of being involved in playing poker, I can make the following observations: One key concept I have applied in this study is behaviorism. My study focused on observing the behavior of others. I have seen the players’ behaviors change according to the consequences they faced. The method I employed for my research was a naturalistic observation since my information was gathered by observing a real live event. The use of social psychology can aid the understanding of what is taking place relationally and habitually during a poker tournament. By studying a large group of people with diverse backgrounds and personalities, I observed a number of different moods, habits, relationships, and attitudes. I have also seen how moods affect our ability to make sound judgments. I have observed how a player’s temperature seemed to rise and he began to sweat when facing elimination. I sensed the relief of anxiety when a player won a big hand on the river. I witnessed the competition between players and saw how alliances and boundaries were formed.
There are a number of ethical problems that can arise by applying these patterns of behavior. When observing a diverse group of people interacting in a social setting it is often easy to assume gender or race specific attributes to certain behaviors. However, I believe that by observing a situation such as described here, the natural tendency to rely on my own preconceived stereotypical judgment would not be relevant. In my study, being free of bias and preconceived prejudice has ensured the most accurate results. Portraying a bias slant in any study or in any experiment of human behavior is detrimental to the integrity of the study.