Poker plays math tutor to teens

If you’re good with numbers, ratios and probability, chances are grasping the game of poker is a walk in the park for you. On the flipside, shouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that if one can grasp the probabilities and mathematical concepts involved in poker it could help them with mathematics in school?

A high school in Virginia believes poker can help students learn math. The school has started a poker club hoping to incorporate the popularity of the game into math and logic-reasoning lessons. There is enough research to back this, at Harvard, the link between straights and flushes has already been endorsed as a teaching tool for probability and reasoning, as well as human behavior. So if Harvard sees a benefit in it, there must be some merit to poker as a math teaching tool.

Of course there are those opponents that could care less about what actual research and statistical evidence exhibits, and are ready to shout down the teaching of poker to student who are too young to gamble. For the record, the school isn’t teaching gambling to the students, it’s teaching them poker, and it’s translating the skills involved to help student learn mathematical principles and relationships. I suppose these opponents would rather students fail mathematics than learn poker, because that makes a whole bunch of sense.

Without a doubt, it’s a great idea. Math is hard enough and for many students it’s boring as hell. I wish they had a program like that when I was in school, perhaps I would have spent less time skipping class and trying to put my hands under skirts and more time playing poker and less time failing math.

The popularity of the club can’t be overlooked. The school reports that it’s not just poker, the club spends part of the time analyzing math concepts such as ratios with poker examples, and as a result, the club has become one of the most popular extracurricular activities at school. Which means, kids are playing poker and learning math rather than out on the streets causing trouble. How can this NOT be a good thing?

Let’s face it, the students that are interested in learning math aren’t the same ones that studies have indicated have mental health issues and are likely to become problem gamblers.