Rant: Poker Should Be a Part of Grade-School Math Curriculum in UK

The former President of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Hank Roberts, is pushing for chess to be introduced in state primary schools in the UK.

Roberts believes that playing chess, from as young as six or seven years of age, increases children's concentration levels, reading comprehension, boosts problem-solving skills, develops thought processes and increases numeracy skills.

It’s believed that only 1 in 10 pupils in state schools currently get access to the game of chess, whereas it is actively encouraged in the privately run schools.

One school that has hopped on board the chess express is Heycroft Primary School in Essex.

Their head teacher, Andrew Palmer, told BBC News that his pupil’s levels of performance in Math had improved as a result of the introduction of one hour of chess per week.

Some of the parents of the school children also chimed in with good news stories about improvements in their kids' levels of concentration. But if chess is good for children I believe poker would be even better.

Poker Better than Chess for Kids

Chess introduces a competitive element based on skill. Poker also does this, but the difference with poker is the element of luck that exists in the game.

This evens the competitive playing field and allows children who may not be as intelligent as others to still continue to do well enough to retain an interest in the game.

Vanessa Selbst
Imagine if Vanessa Selbst had started playing poker when she was six years old.

I used to play chess with my son, but he soon got bored when I kept handing him his arse on a plate.

Yet when we play poker the element of luck means he is going to win more often than he would in chess games against me, and this keeps him interested.

It’s not the taking part that gets people interested. That’s the biggest lie ever told. It’s all about the winning. We're just wired that way.

If chess improves your numeracy skills, imagine what poker could do for you. Probability, variance, pot odds, ICM and all the other complicated stuff that I still don't fully understand.

Finally, it is another great way for introducing females into the game at a very young age.

During a recent radio interview with a chess expert, he said that there was relatively very little difference between the male and female brain; and that only psychological issues prevented females for being any better, or worse, than men when it comes to playing chess.

The same holds true in poker.

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