My latest poker strategy article, Games With Kids, is now appearing in 2+2 Magazine. It’s on a subject I’ve discussed before on the podcast, playing games with my cousin’s three young sons. This article recounts a few specific stories and reflects on some of the things I’ve learned from playing with them:
Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned from them is that their reasons for playing games are quite different from my own. Because I enjoy strategic thinking and find game theory interesting, my favorite games (like poker) involve lots of nuance and meaningful decisions with uncertain outcomes.
Of course, for young children in particular, this kind of thinking is not on their radar at all. Consequently, I’ve suffered through my share of War, Candyland, and other games that involve no meaningful decisions whatsoever (assuming one isn’t trying to take advantage of inevitably marked cards).
Why do children enjoy these games? I believe it is for reasons that they share with many recreational poker players: they enjoy manipulating aesthetically pleasing game pieces (it’s no coincidence that casino chips are brightly colored and have a pleasing size and weight), reveling in the ups and downs that follow from the turn of a card (gambling, essentially, even if there’s nothing of value on the line), and engaging with other people in a friendly and/or competitive pursuit.