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Youth Poker: College Age Kids Play, and Now it’s Being Taught in Some High Schools

A friend named Abe sent me a story in the Washington Post that caught my attention and will hopefully catch yours as well.

It’s about poker clubs IN HIGH SCHOOLS.

Revolutionary concept?

I dunno, but I can say that the closest thing I ever came to gambling in school was a behind the school craps game.

So the Post documents games at George Mason High School .

The reason for all this —  of course there is a reason — ia to take the game from casinos to classrooms, applying card-table concepts to math and logical-reasoning lessons.

George Mason’s school-sponsored poker club, which was founded in September, has quickly become one of the most popular extracurricular activities at the Falls Church high school. But it also has anti-gambling groups questioning whether it encourages potentially unhealthy habits in children.

For years, the debate over whether poker can be stripped of its stakes – and used to teach probability and statistics – has been waged far from George Mason High, between leading academics and advocacy groups.

“We know the kids could play outside of school, but when they’re here, we have the opportunity to show them how to play responsibly and to show them how the game relates to their education,” said Mason Principal Tyrone Byrd.

Well, I suppose….

But listen: George Mason’s club might be a rarity at the high school, but some universities have long had classes that sought to deconstruct the game’s “marvelous architecture,” as Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson calls it.

“When you graduate from Harvard Law School, I want you to be a player,” Nesson tells his students, who play in a section outside class. The lesson is about more than basic statistics. It’s about understanding the anatomy of reasoning and human behavior – “about teaching them to contend in a contentious environment.”

A study from the Annenberg Public Policy Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania released last month found that 15 percent of boys ages 14 to 17 gamble on card games at least once a month.

Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, has been on the front lines of the battle against youth poker, lobbying against everything from Internet gambling to informal high school card games. The group says adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to developing addictions to gambling.

Maybe so, but resisting the urge to play all the time and perhaps become addictive…shouldn’t that be part of the course as well?

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