Poker can prove an invaluable learning tool was the sentiment raised in an article in the Wall Street Journal this week, which detailed the experience of a Lower East Side high school in Manhattan which stages a weekly poker tournament, one that has since impressed both education staff and poker advocates across the country.
So far the Henry Street team’s ten members are the only sanctioned high school poker club in New York, but they have become a team of skilled players.
In 2008 the team travelled to Harvard to compete against (and beat) the Law School. In 2011 they were invited to play the Oxford Cup in the United Kingdom, but were unable to raise funds in time.
One poker advocate who found inspiration from the school is Amy Handelsman, Executive Director of the United States Poker Federation as well as the US Mind Sport Association, whose aim is to steer connotations of poker away from stereotypical connotations, towards its’ more accurate Mind Sport status.
“Poker has been lumped in with some nefarious behaviour because of the way it’s been played,” said Handelsman, speaking to the WSJ.
“But if you take money out of it and look at it on a skill level, what makes somebody a good poker player we think can translate to other areas of cognitive learning.”
The school’s principle Eric McMahon was won over by the effects the weekly games were having on her pupils, and was not the only one to find encouragement from the club.
Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, whose team was on the losing end of the match against Henry Street High School, and who is planning to teach a class that combined poker training with case law, was also full of praise.
“Poker’s all about who your adversary is and how much of your credibility you risk,” said Nesson, who gave the keynote speech at the 2011 International Federation of Poker Congress. “The metaphors of poker are vibrant in the context of legal adversarial action.”
Read the full article on the Wall Street Journal website.