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Modes of UncertaintyAnthropological Cases$
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Limor Samimian-Darash and Paul Rabinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226257075

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226257242.001.0001

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The Gaming of Chance

The Gaming of Chance

Online Poker Software and the Potentialization of Uncertainty

Chapter:
(p.46) Chapter Three The Gaming of Chance
Source:
Modes of Uncertainty
Author(s):

Natasha Dow Schüll

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226257242.003.0004

The rise in popularity of online poker has come with a rise in the development of software that allows gamblers to track and analyze opponents’ (and their own) play behavior. At first glance it would appear that players use the software minimize and manage uncertainty—but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that the tracking software serves less to diminish than to potentialize uncertainty. Although some features reduce uncertainties by turning them into statistically calculable risks, the preponderance serve to help gamblers abide and strategically engage with uncertainties that simply cannot be converted into known risks, and to actively foster and play with new uncertainties. Poker software and the enterprising practices of reflexivity associated with it are tools and techniques for “gaming” uncertainty rather than for overcoming, taming, or eliminating it. In their experiments with these tools and techniques, players are experimenting with forms of self-governance oriented toward the open-ended indeterminacy of uncertainty rather than the limiting, definitional project of risk calculation. These forms value performance over outcome, multiple data points over single events, virtual over real time, and potentialization over actualization of the self.

Keywords:   gambling, uncertainty, risk, calculation, technology, digital media, subjectivity

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