Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 835–845 | Cite as

Cognitive and Performance Enhancing Medication Use to Improve Performance in Poker

  • Joshua Caballero
  • Raymond L. Ownby
  • Jose A. Rey
  • Kevin A. Clauson
Original Paper


Use of neuroenhancers has been studied in groups ranging from students to surgeons; however, use of cognitive and performance enhancing medications (CPEMs) to improve performance in poker has remained largely overlooked. To assess the use of CPEMs to improve poker performance, a survey of poker players was conducted. Participants were recruited via Internet poker forums; 198 completed the online survey. Approximately 28 % of respondents used prescription CPEMs, with the most commonly used including: amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (62 %), benzodiazepines (20 %), and methylphenidate (20 %). CPEMs were used in poker to focus (73 %), calm nerves (11 %), and stay awake (11 %). Caffeine (71 %), as well as conventionally counter-intuitive substances like marijuana (35 %) and alcohol (30 %) were also reported to enhance poker performance. Non-users of CPEMs were dissuaded from use due to not knowing where to get them (29 %), apprehension about trying them (26 %), and legal or ethical concerns (16 %). Respondents most frequently acquired CPEMs via friends/fellow poker players (52 %), or prescription from physician (38 %). Additionally, greater use of CPEMs was associated with living outside the United States (p = 0.042), prior use of prescription medications for improving non-poker related performance (p < 0.001), and amateur and semi-professional player status (p = 0.035). Unmonitored use of pharmacologically active agents and their methods of acquisition highlight safety concerns in this cohort of poker players, especially among non-professional players. The current state of guidance from national organizations on CPEM use in healthy individuals could impact prescribing patterns.


Cognition Gambling Medications Neuroenhancer Poker 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest. No financial support was received for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of PharmacyNova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  2. 2.College of Osteopathic MedicineNova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of PharmacyLipscomb UniversityNashvilleUSA

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