Do I think we should teach poker in elementary
Yes, I think there are elements of the game
that you should teach in terms of like—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 ides, 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
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 mathematics
involved 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
So it’s just a willingness to keep plugging
away at it.