Poker is a game of skill: Even Universities Endorse it now

The Poker Studies Club at University of Waterloo in action
The Poker Studies Club at University of Waterloo in action

Can a game like poker teach us anything? The instant response would be ‘No’, since the general conception is that Poker is a form of card game, not education. But, what if, we tell you that Poker is endorsed by universities like Harvard and Yale and, they provide courses in poker. Will that convince you?

Firstly, we would like to introduce a book by Frederic Paik Schoenberg called“Introduction to Probabilities with Texas Hold’em Examples” which shows how he used Texas Hold’em to teach probabilities to his students in his UCLA university teaching days. If anyone reads through this book, his or her views about this game will change.

Math or Money Management is an obvious take-away from Poker but the game also helps develop real-world skills. One of them is Strategy Planning. Poker is a game where you are trained to access all information and process it. Moreover, it requires that you take quick and logical decisions to out-think your opponent. A talent used by acute business-men world over.

In the words of Bill Gates“In poker, a player collects different pieces of information—who’s betting boldly, what cards are showing, what this guy’s pattern of betting and bluffing is—and then crunches all that data together to devise a plan for his own hand. I got pretty good at this kind of information processing.”

 Another life-skill that poker helps develop is Emotional Strength. The player is always observing his/her opponents identifying quirks and patterns and taking mental notes. They are self-taught patience, endurance (evident of 12hr games) and know how to gracefully handle a win or a loss. Probably this reason accounts for so many US Presidents also being good poker players, namely Abraham Lincoln, Barrack Obama and Teddy Roosevelt. 

Communication is also, a key element in life. And poker is a social game which involves multiple levels of interactions and communication cues — from verbal dialogues aimed at distracting the opponent, to reading their face and body language.This leads many game experts to believe poker is a game that helps students in understanding the world from another’s point of view.

Charles Nesson, a professor at the Harvard Law School is just one of the people who are driving many life-skills to their students through Poker. He is the founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society through which he is trying to teach strategic poker thinking and divulging poker from gambling. 

Poker not only helps in understanding numbers and winning money. It also adds to human development as a whole. From stimulating the brain, to teaching about emotional aptitude, it helps university students better equipped to tackle the world. This is evident by the following universities adding poker to their curriculum(both formally as well as informally). 

  • University of Waterloo, Canada: Has produced poker stars like Mike Watson and Will Ma and has a Poker Studies Club.
  • Harvard University, USA: The Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society has it on the curriculam taught at Harvard by Charles Nesson. 
  • UC Berkeley, USA: Succcessful poker pros like Joe Sebok and Lauren King hail from UCB.
  • Yale University, USA: Has an active Yale Poker Society.
  • Trinity College Dublin, Ireland: Andy Black is a product of Trinity College’s Junior Common Room Poker Club.
  • M.I.T, USA– Has a credit class in poker taught by Will Ma.