Lessons from Playing Poker

Dangerous Children Learn Many Games

Children are born with the instinct to play. Kids are happy to play all kinds of games, even games that provide useful foundations for later life — as long as they can understand the rules. Dangerous Children are taught many games, very early in life.

When teaching games of strategy and tactics, it is best to start with simple games, then advance in difficulty as circumstances allow. “Checkers before chess,” might be a useful rule for most children, for example.


Simple card games can give children the feel of handling the cards, keeping the cards to themselves, and assigning value to the different cards and combinations of cards. By playing card games with simple rules, you should be able to see when the child is ready to move to something more complex. While watching for each transition point to greater difficulty, keep things light, fun, and playful.

What Can Dangerous Children Learn from Poker?

  • Play the cards you are dealt
  • Wishful thinking will make you lose in poker and in life.

  • Learn the value of posturing
  • The skill of controlling facial expressions and body language as a game tactic can be useful in other settings.

  • Learn to handle failure and defeat
  • Poker players are bound to lose a lot of hands — and games. Those who can handle failure gracefully will be in better position to take advantage of new opportunities.

  • Match your play to the situation
  • Some game settings (and some opponents) will require more aggressive styles of play than others.

  • Learn self discipline
  • Learn when to fold a hand, and when to quit for the night.

  • Life isn’t fair
  • You sometimes end up with the worst cards, hand after hand after hand. And then when you get a good hand, another player always seems to get a better one. Accept the caprice of chance without letting it spoil your mood.

  • Pay attention to your opponents
  • Poker is a game of deception. You won’t be able to tell when your opponent is bluffing — or leading you down the garden path — unless you have been paying attention to how he has played his past hands.

  • Be proactive, not reactive
  • Having paid attention to the other players while concealing your own thoughts, you are in a better position to bluff or lull into a trap.

  • Make your own luck
  • Learn to play in a style that maximises your gains and minimises your losses, regardless of the hand you hold.

  • Expect the unexpected
  • Learning to gracefully live with the surprises that luck brings your way — good and bad — helps to build a long term outlook and the ability to step back and enjoy the journey with all its ups and downs.

  • Be the winning player that everyone wants to play with
  • Displaying proper courtesy to everyone, and not cheating, will lead to many more playing opportunities than otherwise.

  • Watch out for cheaters
  • You are the person who is responsible for taking care of yourself. Avoid playing with cheaters if at all possible — unless losing to the cheater is part of a larger strategy.

  • Bet Only What You can afford to lose
  • Manage your bankroll closely and carefully. Walk away before you lose enough to get into trouble.

    Just as important: If you are winning, walk away as soon as you feel yourself losing your “edge.” The euphoria of winning can dull your edge as surely as being intoxicated by chemicals. The same goes for simple fatigue or drowsiness.

  • Don’t be predictable
  • Predictable poker players lose. They may be lucky from time to time, but they will make up for any good luck by playing predictably.




Poker Involves Skill, Chance, and Psychology

You don’t have to be the smartest player at the table, just the best at reading other people. If you can most accurately guess what the other player is holding, you will lose less and win more than the players who have no idea what other players hold.

At the same time, don’t trumpet everything you see and know. Keep it close to the vest. Apply your knowledge strategically, at the proper tactical time and place, and in the most effective way.

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