The Values Of Teaching Texas Hold’em

By David Sasseman

It was my Father that first taught me odds. I was 10 years old and the game was gin rummy. I am sure that is what made formulas in math, chemistry, and physics so much fun. Applying math and logic to real life at that age, or any age, has a big influence. He would state, what seems obvious now, „Think ahead, maximize your chance of winning by throwing away a good card now.“ This game influenced decisions I made in the future. Cards are a great learning tool and Texas hold’em is a thrilling way to learn all kinds of life’s mysteries.

Texas hold’em has the action of ten mini-movies every hour. Like a drama, each hand has a beginning, middle, and end where twists & turns abound. Whether you are rooting for your favorite player on TV, or playing hold’em live, the game is simply thrilling and, the more you know about the game the more intriguing the game becomes. Poker has seduced many players into learning probability. The mathematics of the game are discussed at live poker tables, at work, and at home The odds of winning are shown on the TV screen. Mike Sexton, Gabe (Mr. Kotter) Kaplan, and Norman Chad talk about ‚outs‘. This fun and intrigue has helped poker emerge as the third most watched sports show on cable TV.

Besides learning about odds, risk & reward, and thinking ahead, hold’em can teach psychological and social skills. Poker is a cruel teacher, if you do not have patience or know how to „get into someone else’s head,“ you will lose. A player is rewarded for adjusting to different situations and personalities. The decisions come so fast and furious that multi-level thinking becomes just part of the game.

I taught my Great Nephews, Hunter and Mathew hold’em. It is a game that can be taught very easily. At first, they both wanted to call everything or just go all-in for the fun of it. I immediately imposed the sit out one hand every time you lose all your chips rule. Now Mathew is only 8 years old but after he realized there were consequences for his calling an all-in bet with bottom pair he said, „I am so stupid… so stupid… “ I knew he learned a big lesson in life lesson that day.

One learns reading, writing, and arithmetic through Texas hold’em. A Harvard Law School Professor, Charles Nesson, has been in the news promoting poker as a wonderful way to engage peoples minds and expand thought. This is a learning tool that can be used as early as sixth grade, and in college to produce sharper lawyers, businessmen, and real estate professionals. Besides teaching mathematics and strategy, it teaches how to see from another person’s point of view, „it is just a marvelous game for being able to see what a situation looks like from the other side“. During an interview captured on, Professor Nesson says poker is a game of skill, „It is an incredibly elegant game.“ „It is one where your move depends on what the other person’s move is going to be.“

So teach kids poker and use it as a jumping off point for life’s values. Teach how to apply the probability theory, patience, discipline, how to focus on short and long term goals and evaluate all variables while having a relaxing, fun and social game.