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Gamblers, grinders, and mavericks: The use of membership categorisation to manage identity by professional poker players

Breigh Radburn, Rachel Horsley

Abstract


Historically, gambling has varied considerably regarding its moral and social meanings. Whilst frequent gambling is often constructed as deviant, professional poker playing can be argued to occupy the conflicting position of both deviant and legitimate. This study explored how professional poker players negotiate this potentially troubled aspect of their identities. Semistructured interviews were conducted with four men from the United Kingdom who played casino poker. The data were analysed using membership categorization analysis. The following membership categorisations were in use within participants' accounts: gambler, grinder, maverick, and nongambler, as well as the central categorisation of professional poker player. Participants constructed themselves as stigmatised because they were frequent gamblers and poker players. Thus professional poker players utilised membership categorisation to distance themselves from other membership categories, particularly gamblers, which was achieved primarily through claims warranted by reference to skill and control.


Keywords


gambling; poker; membership categorisation; qualitative

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4309/jgi.2011.26.4

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