Americanization of Males around the Poker Table

Topics: Poker, Card game, Game Pages: 8 (3436 words) Published: December 14, 2010
Hunter Smith

Anth- E 200 Ethnography Paper

Americanization of Males around the Poker Table
Card games have been a staple of many western cultures and historically equivalents are found across the globe. Poker, with arguably go-fish and, is the most popular and widely played game today. The old saying , “All you need to play this game is a chip and a chair” holds very true and has allowed poker to be played by pros, amateurs, and everybody in-between and the “Poker Boom” of the 90’s has expanded the game even further. People commonly seen as dead-beat, degenerate gamblers are now seen as legitimate professionals in the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Tony G., and so on. A result of this “boom” has been a new generation, particularly high school and even more so college students, playing this game on a fairly routine basis with a small to moderately sized group of friends (Holden 35).The premise of the game is every player sets out with an amount of chips either an all equal amount or based on how much the individual player pays in (Cash game) and the point is to be the last man standing-you having all the chips and no other player remains. The most popular variant of this game, (And the one used in this ethnography) is No Limit Texas- Hold ‘em. Each player is dealt two cards; there is a preliminary round of betting and then three cards come out of the deck called the Flop and another round of betting; then if more than one player remain in another card called the Turn is dealt on the board out and another round of betting occurs; and if there is still more than one person still in the last card or the River is put on the board and a final round of betting occurs-best five card hands wins if two players or more remain in through the last round of betting. The No Limit in No Limit Texas Hold’em simply means that a player at any time can bet as much as he wants all the way to “going all in” or betting all this chips and the player can do this at any time during a round including pre-flop (Before the Flop is dealt). While the game does appear fairly simple, testifying from personal experience, it is very, very complex and much more complicated than what it appears on the surface with a very large set of vocabulary, rules, plays, strategies and I will keep the game-specific terminology at a minimum and see to it to give just the needed explanations when needed.

This paper not about the game of poker itself but explores the interactions between participating members. The point of this research is to examine how the game acts as a medium for socialization. This idea is based on a symbolic-interactionism approach which is a widely accepted paradigm that argues that a culture of a society is maintained at a micro level through interactions between individuals and small groups. Now, that does not necessarily dismiss the large social structures and other more macro level influences and their impact on culture but that one can look at a smaller scale and see that culture not only plays itself out but that it maintains itself by having members of the society reiterate and play out the ideals of the culture when they are interacting with others. Key elements of what it means to be an American male are very present during this game and it’s very clear there is peer socialization occurring just in this informal five dollar card game. Now this paper is taking a very androcentric paper and that is not to say that female poker players don’t exist or that they are not as “interesting” but this is a very much a male dominated game (Which is changing) and gender socialization is so different between males and females that it would mandate two separate papers. It should also be noted that like many other activities people find it necessary get money on the line and turn it into gambling. Gambling will not be explored in this paper and the game used for this paper the participants did all put five...

Cited: Burchfield, Henri. Stripes: What American Society Does. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State Press, 1985. Print.
Holden, Anthony. A Bigger Deal: Year Inside the Poker Boom. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Print.
Smith, Gregg. Beer: A History of Suds and Civilization from Mesopotamia to Microbreweries. New York: Avon Books, 1995. Print.
Trotter, Robert. “War: Anthropologists and Sociologist Ask Whether Warfare and Aggression Are Inherited or Learned” Science News 104.16 (1973): 250-251. JSTOR. Web. 31 Oct. 2010
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