Pocket Aces

I Taught My Kid to Play Poker and He Schooled Me

My kids are 10 and 12 years old. I have been in the poker industry for more than their entire lives. They have always thought it was kind of cool that I was involved in poker, but never really understood it beyond it being a gambling card game, especially because I haven’t really played poker since they were little. Every year, though, they see me watching the World Series of Poker Main Event and get more interested. That interest fades when the Series ends and the cycle repeats itself. This week, though, my 10-year old son – a kid who tends to get laser-focused on things – really enjoyed me narrating some hands of the final table to him, explaining how things worked. I taught him the hand rankings, something that he was very concerned with being able to memorize, and I showed him the mechanics of how a hand played out. Yesterday, he approached me and said he wanted to play a real game of poker with me. I got out my poker chip set from my days working for an online poker affiliate site and we played heads-up. A 10-year-old child handed me my ass.

The game was no-limit Texas hold’em, 5/10 blinds, 200 chips apiece. Yeah, I know those are shallow stacks, but I was just teaching him how to play. He was oddly intimidated by having too many chips, so I stopped at 200.

First hand, I dealt myself 10-3 offsuit and the flop was 10-3-3. This rising fifth grader won’t know what hit him. As much as I bet, though (and I didn’t go nuts with the betting), he didn’t budge. I assumed he had crap, didn’t know what he was doing, and just wanted to toss chips around. At showdown, we flipped our cards over and… what. He had 10-3, also.

Hilarity ensued.

Next hand, I had some garbage like 9-6. We both stayed in the hand through the river and what do you know? He had 9-6, too! My shuffling must be off.

The next couple of hands were uneventful. He was still figuring out what it meant to check; oftentimes he would try to fold without even facing a bet. I also had us both reveal our cards at the end of the hand, no matter what happened, so I could provide him some lessons.

Shortly after the back-to-back chopped pots, I flopped a pair, clearly a strong hand heads-up, but despite my betting, my son wasn’t moving. On the turn, the child raised me, so much so that I had to fold. Boy proudly turned over a complete bluff. I got bluffed out of my seat by an elementary school kid.

The very next hand, the flop was A-K-10, two spades. I had K-J of diamonds, so I felt pretty good about myself. Turn was a 7 and I was leading out hard. After his bluff, I wasn’t giving him any sort of credit for anything. River was the 7 of spades and I kept going, a bigger bet than before, and my son called, flipping over J-Q of spades. This human who sprung from my loins, whose dirty butt I wiped thousands of times, this kid in whose mouth I put food, flopped Broadway on me and then rivered the nut flush. He almost had a royal flush.

And then my good-for-nothing son started talking shit to me. There we were, sitting on the family room floor, this young person who I could easily stuff into the kitchen garbage can was stacking my chips and shit-talking me.

“Yeah, that’s how it’s done. You like that?”
“You need some chips?”
“And you’ve been doing this for years.”

I didn’t have any red chips left
Photo credit: Frédéric BISSON

I asked him if he thought he was hot shit right about then and he answered in the affirmative. Next thing you know, I will find charges on my credit card for online poker sites.

I put out my big blind, using two white chips instead of one red like I had been doing.

“No, you need to put out a red chi– oh wait, you don’t have any!”

Despite his sportsmanship, I did teach him that he should have raised on the river when he had the flush, since the worst that would have happened was that I would have folded and he still would have won the same number of chips.

“That’s assuming you didn’t think I had a full house,” I added as a disclaimer.

“I felt pretty confident,” he replied… confidently.

From there, the rest of the match was unremarkable. He flopped a set of sixes, but I didn’t take the bait. I shoved at one point and got him to fold a decent pot; another hand or two going my way made it look like I had a respectable stack.

I eventually had to call it quits as it was late and I still had some work to do. With ending chip stacks for 255 to 145, it looks like I have a lot of work to do. The next Doyle and Todd Brunson we are not.

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