Istrate [Abstract]

From pathological to professional: gambling stories   [Full text]

Andrada Mihaela Istrate  [1]

Abstract: Theories on gambling are as disparate as they are diverse. While on the one hand gambling is condemned as being pathological, a curable addiction, on the other it is regarded as merely leisure. While playing on the exterior features of gambling, these two perspectives narrow the vistas of gambling research. I contribute to the debate by treating gambling (poker playing in particular) through the meaning conveyed by players upon it, discussing games and play as part and parcel of everyday experience. My research is centered on how poker players make professional claims and the way they justify poker playing as a profession. By discussing games as world building practices (Schutz, 1945; Huizinga, 1950; Goffman, 1961) I deemphasize the deviant character gambling actuates and advert on its informative potential on emergent societal and cultural transformations. Making a living out of poker, making sense of the game, at the same time, as a lens that organizes their way of going through the world, players connect the reality of the world of daily life to the reality of the game. I argue that the horizons of this finite province of meaning (Schutz, 1945) are not confined to the world of poker, but communicate extensively with the wider reality through its characteristics, from its unique time structure and the pervasive identities created in the game, to the money players circulate.

Keywords: Gambling, poker, profession, world building practices, multiple realities

[1] CEU Budapest,