Winning big can lead to changed behaviour among poker players



It is said that a big win, early on in a persons gambling career, could lead to false expectations of future wins. This in turn could lead to increased gambling, which consequently increases the risk of becoming a problem gambler.

We took a closer look at this phenomenon by studying how players behave after a big win.* We compared their gambling activity and how much money they spent gambling, one month before and one month after the event.

FIRSTLY, we found that, after a big win, players increase their gambling activity on average by 30 %, although with big variations.
One could have expected this number to be even greater, or at least we did – the interesting part is that instead of an even higher gambling activity, we see differences in behaviour between different families of games.

SECONDLY, players who prefer games of chance tend to slightly increase their level, but do not increase their betting amounts and therefore manage to keep a big portion of their winnings.

THIRDLY, we note a low correlation between the size of the win and the change in gambling behaviour, with one exception: the poker player. Poker players are more likely to increase their betting amounts and even if some of them actually manage to continue their winning streak, some lose their winnings rather quickly.

So, is a big win a risk factor for developing problems? Well, by analyzing this particular set of data, we find that a big win does have an impact on future gambling behaviour – even if the effect seems to differ depending on what family of games you prefer.

Reaching the right player with the right intervention, at the right time, might be the one of biggest challenges we face in the industry, since we do not wish to disturb players without a cause. However, with this information it is fairly safe to say that one should pay extra attention to the aftermath – and stop players from crashing after a big win. So on we go by A/B-testing specially designed messages; warning players if they suddenly increase their spendings after a big win. We will then study how this information impacts future behaviour – hoping to see more players keeping their scoop after winning. Stay tuned for the results.


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*A “big win” in this case is 50 000 SEK on one gametype in one day.