PS390 Selected Topics in Psychology:

for F2A 2009

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PS 390 Selected Topics in Psychology: Psychology of Gambling


F2A 2009 BE


Cardner, Patricia A.


Assistant Professor of Psychology


PhD, Sam Houston State University
EdD, Argosy University, (expected completion 2010)
LPC, Texas

Office Location

Austin, TX

Office Hours

By Appointment

Daytime Phone


Other Phone



Semester Dates

10/19/2009 to 12/13/2009

Class Days


Class Time

8:00 - 10:40 PM



Credit Hours



Bellin, A. (2002). Poker Nation: A high-stakes, low life adventure into he heart of gambling country. Perennial. ISBN: 0-06-095847-2.

Craig, M. (2005). The professor, the banker and the suicide king: Inside the richest poker game of all time. Warner Books. ISBN:0-446-69497-5.

Mezrich, B. (2002). Bringing down the house. Free Press. ISBN: 0-7432-4999-2.

Dalla, N. & Alson, P. (2005). One of a kind: The rise and fall of Stuey “The Kid” Ungar, the world’s greatest poker player. Atria Books. ISBN: 0-7434-7658-1.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
PS 390 Selected Topics in Psychology: Psychology of Gambling

Prerequisite: None

Theories of psychology will be applied to various gambling scenarios with a primary emphasis on poker. In addition, issues affecting players, such as stress, emotional regulation and detecting deception, as well as effective adjustments in gambling settings will be explored. Students will also be made aware of gambling addiction as well as appropriate treatments. 

Educational Philosophy:
Dr. Cardner’s  educational philosophy is based on a collaborative combination of lectures, readings, quizzes, videos and group work.  The student will be able to critically evaluate topics in career counseling while engaging in positive discussion with peers. My philosophy of teaching emphasizes student learning whether that learning occurs in a face to face format or in the online environment. One of my areas of expertise is psychology, and one of the main things that I learned from the study of psychology is that people have different learning styles. I have also learned as a result of study and experience, that adult learners differ in some important ways from traditional college students. I believe that students learn best when the material presented is timely and relevant and applicable. Adult students in particular like to see the relevance of what they are studying. One way that I like to do this is by including current events and cases for discussions. Discussions are the heart and soul of effective learning. This is the one way that students get to know one another and it gives them an opportunity to learn from one another. In addition, there is a great deal of information on the web that students can use to enhance their learning. They are encouraged to use web resources for this purpose.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. 1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the major psychological constructs that are important to gambling realms
  2. 2. Students will develop an appreciation for the psychological nuances of various gambling games with a primary focus on poker
  3. 3. Identify and label psychological themes as they appear in gambling mass media
  4. 4. Explain the impact that gambling can have on a person and their family when an addition to gambling develops or escalates.
  5. 5. Understand the course of treatment that applies to gambling addictions as well as assessment procedures
  6. 6. Demonstrate high quality written and/oral communication skills through interaction with other students and the instructor utilizing correct psychological terms and concepts.
Class Assessment:

·          Weekly Quiz.  There will be weekly quizzes administered throughout the semester – starting with week 2 and ending with week 7 (for a total of 6 quizzes). Each quiz will be made up of questions from the reading assignment for a given week.  Each quiz will be worth up to 20 points.

·          Attendance and Participation:  Attendance and participation is required for class and will be worth up to 100 points.

·          Final. A Final will be administered covering the readings from the entire semester (comprehensive).  The final will be worth up to 100 points.

·          Core Assessment. 8 page paper minimum worth 100 points.


Each student will select 1 popular poker player and will write a paper that analyzes the player in terms of the information presented in class. Each player will be described in terms of their likely personality strengths and weaknesses. Students will also make an assessment of probable gambling addiction, if any, and prescribe a course of treatment. Finally, the paper will outline a program of psychological training that could be investigated to assist the player in improving their overall game as well as alleviating identified problems and issues. Any potential shortcomings to the plan should be noted.

Possible player selections include, but are not limited to:

·          Phil Hellmuth

·          Mike Matasow

·          Phil Ivey

·          Phil Laak

·          Antonio Esfandiari

·          Michael Mizrachi

·          Gavin Smith

·          Annie Duke

·          Doyle Brunson

·          Tiffany Michelle

·          Gus Hansen

·          Chris Ferguson

These players have been selected because there is a great deal of video of their play available as well as numerous written documents and interviews. You may seek permission to study a player who is not on the list. 

Papers should be double-spaced, 12-point font, and in APA style. The paper will be a minimum of 8 pages. The paper should include at least six references. The paper is worth 100 points. 


Class Assessment:


Week Due


Total Pts


all 8






Final Exam




Core Assessment Paper











470 - 423


422 - 376


375 - 329


328 - 282


below 282


Late Submission of Course Materials:

Any assignment turned in after the date it is due will only be eligible to receive up to half credit for the assignment. No course materials will be accepted after the last class meeting.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

·          Attend class promptly. Roll will be checked during each class period. It is your responsibility to make up anything missed in class and that your scheduled assignments are submitted on time.

·          Be prepared for class. This means that you have read the assigned readings and are prepared to discuss them. This course will consist of class discussion, small group discussion, group work, lecture, and experiences outside of class. You are expected to take part in the discussions and group work. Also, assigned readings will not always be reviewed in class, but examinations will be from both assigned readings and class discussions.

·          Each assignment will be turned in via the online classroom. Each assignment will be graded electronically and returned to the student via the online classroom. 

·          The student is expected to maintain a respectful attitude towards others at all times.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1

Introduction to the Psychological Issues Associated with Gambling

Week 2

Poker Strategy

Week 3

Motivation and Goal Setting

Week 4

Managing Tilt: Anger and Anxiety

Week 5

Concentration: Focus under Pressure

Week 6

Gambling Addiction and Treatment, Other Potential Personality Issues

Week 7

Detecting Deception

Week 8

Putting It All Together

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:9/8/2009 3:40:25 PM