When did you learn how to play poker? Was it as an adult? Maybe in college or even high school? Or, did you learn as a younger kid? Because poker is closely tied to wagering real money and gambling is not legal in the U.S. before the age of 18, many people do not consider the game something important to teach to kids. However, there is a growing case being made that poker teaches a lot of valuable life lessons, even to children, and should be taught early on in life. There are many benefits that youngsters can take from the game that will serve them well as they develop and later in life. Here are the reasons kids should learn to play poker young.
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When you think of learning math and card games, you probably think of games that prominently feature addition in the rules such as blackjack or ninety-nine. However, poker can teach kids math skills too. There are two ways this works. One is with betting and the poker chips. Being able to add denominations of 5s, 10, 25s, etc. is an important math skill for younger kids to learn and poker will help with that. If you need great poker chips to help your child learn math, check out the Giftwits poker chip buying guide.
For slightly older kids who already have a grasp of basic math, poker also deals with probability in a big way. When a player sees what cards are in their hand, what cards are on the table, and what they think their opponents might have, they are using probability to determine what the chances are that the next card or cards out will help them. The best part is, this is not a stuffy lesson like you would get in math class. Kids will start using probability without even knowing it!
Another math-related skill that kids learn from poker is money management. The fact is, many, if not a majority of people in the world are bad with money. They make poor financial decisions and don’t understand the value of a dollar. Also, most education systems in the world spend more time on history and literature than they do on real-world financial training. This is why people struggle with managing money.
In poker, you learn the value of a poker chip real quick and you also learn how to manage them so you do not lose them all in one shot (most of the time). This makes it no surprise one of the most famous poker players ever was an accountant. Managing your bankroll is a vital skill in poker and when kids start to understand that you have to budget your bankroll during weak hands and make calculated investments in strong hands, kids will be well on their way to learning valuable economic lessons.
There is no such thing as a sure thing in poker. Even if you start with pocket Aces, you can always get beat. Even if you have the best hand and a 100% chance of winning, you can still get bluffed out of the pot. Because of these factors, everything in poker is a risk. That is why poker is so good at teaching kids risk management.
Kids are young and think they are invincible. They have no problem taking risks, damn the consequences. It is what makes us, as an adult, both admire and fear for children so much. Poker helps teach not just about the downsides of risk but the upsides too. It can teach kids that if they risk it all for no reason, they can lose it all. But, if they take a smart risk at the right time, they can walk away with everything.
On a less serious but also important note, another reason to teach kids poker at a young age is that you don’t want to end up in a card game in college and not know what you’re doing! Poker has become a big part of life on college campuses around the country in the last few decades and it is played by millions of people. There are certainly dozens if not hundreds of poker games going on around the world in dorm rooms as you read this. And, the first time your child stumbles upon one on campus, how do you want them to react?
Would you rather have your son or daughter be the cool card shark kid who knows how to shuffle up and deal and play poker like a pro or the kid who watches from the sidelines? We would almost all pick Option A in those two scenarios. So, teach your kid poker… and that cool waterfall shuffling technique while you’re at it for good measure.
Modern life in 2020 is incredibly hectic and there are more screens and technology that occupy our attention and time than ever before. Even spending time with our children can devolve into everyone sitting around, watching TV or worse, everyone on their own phone or tablet. Poker is a great way to spend time with the family the old-fashioned way; around a table, looking at each other in the eye and talking to each other.
Poker is a thoughtful, tactile game that requires players to be present in real-life to learn and play. This is exactly how you want to interact with your kids whenever possible. Poker is a great family time activity that will get families together when kids are learning the game and keep families together over time. It is truly a lifelong skill that your whole family can benefit from.
If you are a poker player, chances are the game has treated you well overall and has taught you some valuable life lessons. No matter when you learned it, you probably have found at least some value in the game. If you are a poker player, make sure you take the time to pass that down to your kids. And, if you’re not a poker player, it will be great for you and your kids to learn the game together!