Rant: Why Can’t My Kid (or Yours) Be a Poker Prodigy?

My son learned an important lesson this weekend.

He’s a teenage boy who would stay in bed all weekend, if I allowed it, but this year he's playing football for the first time.

“You have to get up early on weekends when you're playing football,” I told my sleepy-eyed boy on Saturday morning.

“I don’t care. I love getting up for football,” replied my son.

Isn’t waking up so much easier when you're waking up to do something you love?

A Reason to Wake Up in the Morning

Jennifer Shahade
Jen Shahade.

Jennifer Shahade is a chess prodigy, author and poker player.

She is also the Mindpsorts ambassador for PokerStars and will be in the Isle of Man for the UKIPT's first-ever hybrid chess & poker tournament.

Shahade comes from a chess background. Both her father and brother are experts in the game. After initially struggling with the game as a very young child, she returned to it during high school where she excelled.

She loves chess, and she has made a living from that springboard.

I have no doubt that Shahade’s interest in the game, and one of the many reasons why she became so good, was the influence of her father & brother.

Her love of the game, coupled with their love for the game, leads to a reason to wake up in the morning.

Most of the greatest sportsmen in the world reached the top of their sports due to a combination of skill, hard work and repetition - the latter meaning they played their sports a lot.

Why Not a Poker Prodigy?

If Shahade can be a chess prodigy, then why can’t my son be a poker prodigy?

The two games are very similar and they teach you many life skills. Chess is a part of the school curriculum in so many areas of the world, yet poker is looked upon as a somewhat seedy pastime.

This is, of course, because of our association with gambling.

I think this is going to change in the future. I can see poker learning from chess and vice versa.

We'll see the first-ever $1m guaranteed prize pool for a chess tournament this year. That’s an example of chess learning from poker.

Richard Lyndaker
Is it difficult? Sure. But what great job isn't?

I believe poker can learn from chess by pushing through into the school curriculum.

Poker can be such a fun way to learn mathematics. It also teaches you valuable personal finance lessons - something that is sorely lacking in modern day curriculum.

Then you have the interpersonal skills, the bluffing and the psychology.

Tell Me a Great Job That Isn't Difficult

Following the lead of Mindsports International and the Global Poker Index (GPI), promoting poker as a bona fide sport is one avenue into the schools and one I support whole-heartedly.

So if poker is going to be a sport, then doesn’t it follow suit that we need to groom our next poker stars?

What about my son? He loves to play video games, he loves solving problems and he loves competition.

I want him to become more proficient at math, to develop high-quality senses and interpersonal skills, and learn the value of money.

If he becomes a successful poker player he can travel all over the world, revel in the diversity of culture and earn enough money to give back to the those who need it more.

He will also have the ability to create time for his family and choose his own schedule.

Is it difficult? Of course it is. But tell me a job that has so much going for it that isn’t?

What if Your Child Wants to Play Poker?

Who's going to say, "I want my kid to play poker"?

When interviewing poker players, if I learn they have children, I always ask them what they would do if their child wanted to play.

I always receive the same two answers.

Either they say their children can do anything they want and will receive their support should they choose poker as a vocation, or they are adamant that their child should not play the game.

Where are the men and women who are going to stand up and say they want their child to be a poker player?

And not only that, but that they're going to push their child to become the very best and teach them all they know, just like Shahade’s father and brother did for her.

So what do you think? Should we encourage our children to play poker at a young age?

Is being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame something that should invoke inspiration and desire, or something to be ashamed of?

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