Decision-making and thought processes among poker players

Joseph St. Germain, Gershon Tenenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study was aimed at delineating decision-making and thought processing among poker players who vary in skill-level. Forty-five participants, 15 in each group, comprised expert, intermediate, and novice poker players. They completed the Computer Poker Simulation Task (CPST) which comprised of 60 hands of No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em. During the CPST, they were asked to 'think out loud' throughout the hand. The 60 hands were broken down into two time conditions (e.g., 15 seconds and no time restriction). Findings indicated that expert and intermediate players outperformed novice players in decisionmaking (DM) performance. This difference was largest at later stages of the hand. Expert players reported processing more thoughts than intermediate players and novice players. Additionally, experts and intermediates reported attending to situational-relevant cues while novices focused on basic poker considerations and irrelevant cues. Contrary to research in other areas, the novice players displayed the greatest increase in DM performance during the limited time condition. The uniqueness and constraints of poker are used to explain and elaborate on the study's findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalHigh Ability Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision-making
  • Expertise
  • Poker
  • Thought processing


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