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Poker and research: friends or foes?

I’m a poker player. Some days I am terrible; others I am quite good. Mostly, though, I am fascinated. Here are my thoughts about a new research project I’d like to conduct around poker. The categories for my project outline are from Writing Your Dissertation: How to Plan, Prepare and Present Your Work Successfully by Derek Swetnam.

Project Outline: Poker
I’m interested in poker as a form of leisure and profession. I’m also interested in how it has changed over time and how technologies and situations affect poker players and how they think about the game and themselves.

What do I want to know?
• How do poker players of various kinds identify themselves? And how does that identification interact with the type of poker they play (e.g. home game, casino, online)?
• What does the community of poker players look like? Is there one? Are there many?
• How has online poker changed the way poker player use information about the game and about each other?
• How has online poker changed the way poker players identify themselves to others and to themselves?
• How have the expansion of casino poker rooms and online poker affected the professional lives of players?
• How have the expansion of casino poker rooms and online poker affected the professional lives of players?
• Do Hayano’s findings about professionals and the social organization of the card room still hold? (references an ethnography conducted in the mid 1970’s and published in 1982)
• How does the way a player identifies himself interact with the type of poker he plays, the amount of money he bets, and the people around him?

How will I find out?
• Hours of ethnography in poker rooms, home games, and online (follow Hayano’s model)
• Interview willing members of various categories (as identified through the ethnography)
• Analyze behavior that can be observed and captured in online poker games/tournaments


So, what do you think ?

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