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5 Benefits of Teaching Your Kids to Play Poker (Bear with Me on This!)

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When you think about a game of poker, images of a smoke-filled and bourbon-sloshed casino might initially come to mind. Not exactly the most wholesome environment for kids, right? Well it might be time to change your perception.

Although poker often does have a reputation for the seedy and sleazy, as a teaching device, this game can instill positive traits in young and fertile minds. Poker is an entertaining and practical resource—not to mention, a solid bonding experience—to share with your children, while imparting life lessons in the process. In fact, here are five benefits that kids can acquire from learning this game.

Improve Memory and Cognition.

Poker is a nuanced game of strategy—of course, sheer luck is involved, but in order to play a hand successfully, critical thinking must be utilized. From learning the different ranks and suits of each card, to remembering an opponent’s move, to analyzing the most tactical course of action, poker strengthens both memory and cognitive function. With the easiness and convenience of technology at their fingertips, kids are losing the capacity to assess, calculate and retain information. But poker can reintegrate this formative skill in a way that’s both stimulating and accessible.

Examine a Risk from All Angles.

Children have a tendency to react on impulse without considering the possible effects of their actions. While adults can gauge the consequence of risk versus reward, kids are more likely to jump headfirst into a situation, neglecting to evaluate whether that action is beneficial or detrimental. Poker reinforces the value of anticipating the risk of a certain decision before setting that choice in motion, then determining if the potential reward is worth the risk. If your child is prone to the “leap first then look” mindset, poker can help balance their spontaneity with foresight.

Learn Wise Money Management.

In order to succeed in poker, you need to maneuver the chips shrewdly, ascertaining when to hold onto them and when to stake them all. This same idea applies to managing finances—the relationship between saving and spending is an important lesson that’s overlooked in many classrooms, but it’s essential for raising kids who become fiscally mature adults. Encouraging them to be wise stewards of their chips at the poker table can translate into the responsible management of their allowance or babysitting money, and even their bank accounts as they get older.

Develop Keen Observation Skills.

In this era of constant stimulation and instant gratification, children have increasingly limited attention spans. They are exposed to a stream of “white noise” coming from all directions which splits and restricts their focus. But poker requires them to watch their opponents acutely, to discern a bluff through observing both facial expressions and body language, to notice what’s happening around the table at any given moment. When kids learn to be observant in a poker game, they’ll become more focused in other areas of their lives too—from sports to academics.

Embrace Diverse Kinds of People.

Poker is an all-inclusive game that breaks down the barriers of social hierarchy too often experienced in schools. This activity does not discriminate between the popular jock or the honor roll student. Nor does it take into account a person’s background or image. Once the cards are dealt, everyone in the group is equal, and no preferential treatment is given. For this reason, poker is excellent for teaching the benefits of diversity and bringing all different kinds of people together. It’s a shared experience that crosses a social divide between kids by fostering a common interest.

If you’re introducing your children to poker for the first time and need a refresher, here is a comprehensive breakdown of the poker rules. From the classic version of Texas Hold ‘Em to the quirkier variants of Omaha and Crazy Pineapple, teaching kids to play this game is both a lesson in personal growth and an exercise in good-clean fun!

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