“It Always Depends on the Context”

Poker Players' Perceptions of Substance Use at and Beyond the Table





poker, substance use, context, motivation, qualitative, players' perceptions


While it is well recognized that gambling behaviours are shaped by the contexts in which they occur, less research has investigated the relationship between poker and substance use (i.e., alcohol and other drugs). The current study explores poker players’ perceptions of the relationship between substance use and gambling. This qualitative descriptive study is a secondary data analysis of 25 interviews with poker players conducted as part of a broader prospective cohort project. From the thematic analysis, players described how specific contextual factors, such as social setting and location (e.g., bars, casinos) influenced their substance use. Poker players reported a relationship between substance use and gambling practices. However, players differed greatly in their decisions about whether, and how much, to use alcohol and other drugs, with individuals’ choices depending heavily on contexts (e.g., more inclined to partake when alcohol was available) and motivations (e.g., remaining sober to remain sharp and not impair their intellectual capacity). For those players who considered poker earnings to be their main source of income, increased use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis were reported as a way of dealing with stress, anxiety and a lack of motivation related to their play.

Author Biographies

Adèle Morvannou, Université de Sherbrooke

Dr Morvannou is a professor at the University of Sherbrooke (Canada). Her research aims to understand the trajectories and experiences of poker players and women who have experienced harm related to gambling, stigma in help-seeking, and to assess the adequacy between services and needs.

Eva Monson, Université de Sherbrooke

Eva Monson is a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke (Canada). Her current research is devoted to investigating how social and environmental deprivation, from the level of the individual to the neighbourhoods where they reside, factor into the dialogue concerning gambling behaviours and problems.

Marianne Saint-Jacques, Université de Sherbrooke

Marianne Saint-Jacques is a professor at Université de Sherbrooke (Canada).

Vincent Wagner, Université de Sherbrooke

Vincent Wagner is Associate Professor at Université de Sherbrooke (Canada).

Valérie Aubut, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Valérie Aubut is a doctoral student in psychoeducation at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (Canada).

Natacha Brunelle, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Natacha Brunelle is Full Professor in psychoeducation at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (Canada).

Magali Dufour, Université du Québec à Montréal

Magali Dufour is professor at Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada).


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How to Cite

Morvannou, A., Monson, E., Saint-Jacques, M., Wagner, V., Aubut, V., Brunelle, N., & Dufour, M. (2023). “It Always Depends on the Context”: Poker Players’ Perceptions of Substance Use at and Beyond the Table. Critical Gambling Studies, 4(1), 53–65. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs134



Original Research Articles