Dr Philip Newall is a gambling researcher who is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at Central Queensland University’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory. Previously, Philip completed a PhD in Economics at the University of Stirling in 2016, before going on to do postdoctoral research fellowships at Technical University Munich and the University of Warwick. Philip is a member of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling – an advisory group of the Gambling Commission in Great Britain, and was a special advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee Enquiry on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry. Philip is a proponent of adapting concepts and research methods from the field of behavioural science to gambling. Philip has 37 peer-reviewed publications on the topics of gambling and decision making more broadly, and is on the editorial board of the journal Addiction Research & Theory. Philip’s research is available from: https://sites.google.com/site/philipnewallresearch
Elite online professional poker players
Aims: Disordered gambling is thought to comprise elements of behavioural addiction and harm, and a large literature lists a number of risk factors for disordered gambling, such as young age, male gender, the presence of a big early win, impulsiveness, irrational cognitions about chance, spending a lot of time gambling, and engagement with multiple gambling formats. However, very little is known about elite professional gamblers, who might gamble a lot and yet not experience harm due to their ability to win often substantial amounts of money over time. Study of this group may provide a unique angle on harm reduction in gambling and the psychology of gambling. This study investigates responses from elite former online poker professionals along dimensions uncovered by the disordered gambling literature.
Design: Qualitative interviews.
Setting: Online poker.
Participants: Expert online poker professionals, each with a sustained track record of success (N=16).
Measurements: An interview guide was designed from the disordered gambling literature.
Findings and conclusions: Participants each spent significant periods of their lives showing signs of behavioural addiction to gambling, and yet self-reported no or little harm, and many had retired from active play without showing cravings to return. Participants generally reported having a long-term decision-making focus, having no irrational cognitions, and often rarely gambled outside of their poker specialism(s). Participants were open-minded and reflective about their skill level in poker and related domains such as investing. The further study of the psychology of professional gamblers may aide understanding of harm reduction in gambling.