Do I think we should teach poker in elementary schools?
yes, I think there are elements of the game
that you should teach in terms of like teaching because
what poker really does is teach
you how to deal with probabilities and uncertainties,
and that’s so integral to life.
Everything we try to do— “ should we take this route or that route ,
should I go here on vacation or there ”
—it’s all about dealing with uncertainties and probabilities
of things happening,
and poker is a very fun and easy way to teach someone how to do that.
It’s a shame people often put poker
in the same ballpark as just general gambling.
Just because some people choose to play it for money,
but you don’t have to play for
money—it’s just about winning.
You could win anything.
You could win pride.
You could win matchsticks or money.
And there is so many like core fundamentals
of the game that I wish I had known at age ten,
these sort of ways of thinking about expected value and
probabilistic thinking in general
would have sped up a lot of things
in my life had I been more aware of it.
And also learning how to evaluate evidence;
that’s something that is not taught in school
or very rarely taught in school,
learning how to change our minds, update our beliefs.
When we get new information being
able to weigh is that information reliable or not
and playing poker has taught me how to do those much more accurately. So,
if there’s a way to teach children
through a game, and children love to learn through games,
poker could be one of those methods.
I think being mathematically minded is—there’s
probably some aptitude involved in it, but
I still think the vast majority
of it is down to the determination and practice.
You can take someone,
I mean if you can just understand the concept of numbers in the first place,
which I think the vast majority of humans can,
then you can train someone to
be more mathematically capable.
It’s like learning a language;
it’s almost like you have that initial passion and desire
to get better, then it’s those little incremental jumps.
And it makes me so sad when I meet people who are
like “ I ’ m no good at math, no good at math ” and
if you actually keep asking them why and go back in their history it almost
always comes down to some bad experience they
had when they were probably seven years old
and the teacher asked them “ what’s five times five?
” and they screwed up and their
friends laughed at them,
and then these barriers get built and they’re like “ oh it’s not
And I think it’s just a huge tragedy
because most humans can learn to be at least competent
at basic mathematics, especially the mathematicsinvolved in poker.
It’s really not that complicated.
There’s a lot of approximations
you can do and I found that I used to actually not be
very good at mental arithmetic.
I was fine if I had a pen
and paper and algebra, that was,
I liked that, but in the moment of,
mental arithmetic I could never do.
But I started playing poker and started practicing
these things and now it’s a skill I’m proud of.
So it’s just a willingness to keep plugging away at it.