Posted March 21, 2014 by John Baintree in News

Why poker can teach children life lessons


Poker seems to be one of those games! It’s a bit of a marmite game if you know what I mean and nothing seems to be more likely to cause a marmite reaction than the subject of teaching children poker. At first consideration, the love marmite (with butter on hot toast) crowd seem to have the argument sewn up with the “it teaches children about maths”. As if we didn’t already have enough good ways of teaching probabilities and odds.

A second, more detailed consideration does offer some deeper insight into the learning opportunities that exist and three particularly strong ones are detailed below.

Risk versus reward

This is a very hard concept for children to grasp, especially if they are younger. As they enter into their pre-teens years they are old enough to consider this abstract concept and a game like poker is a perfect way of providing a concrete framework around the concept. Always assuming a child is filled with the desire to win, teaching a child to weigh up the size of their win against the chance of them loosing is a perfect vehicle for this lesson.

Recognising and dealing with incomplete details

Making decisions in life is easy if you are furnished with all the relevant information. Summing up a situation where you only have a partial set of details is a whole new ball game. Poker works as a perfect vehicle for learning this life skill. It provides a perfect opportunity to learn about various outcomes and their respective probabilities and to learn this as a way of dealing effectively with less than complete information.

Dealing with things that go wrong

Things go wrong in life. They go wrong all the time. The secret is to know how to limit the impact of bad things on good things. Losing a hand of poker can present a child with a perfect opportunity to learn that sometimes bad things just happen for no particular cause. It can be used to demonstrate that the secret in dealing with these bad things is to partition them off. Simply move along because the next hand is a brand new one that bears no relationship to the bad one. It seems to be the perfect way of demonstrating that fate never has it in for you individually, it just works like that.