Vice Squad
Friday, October 22, 2004
The Benefits of Poker for Kids

I have been worried about the poker craze that seems to be engulfing the youth of America. Still am, when the stakes get high or when the games become large and too organized (though this latter concern grows from the legal regime governing gambling and not from the poker per se). But vices like gambling (and drugs, and alcohol, and pornography...) have benefits, too, as economists should be the first to remember. So it was nice to have my memory jogged by a letter to the editor in Thursday's Chicago Tribune. It's from a mom who notes that "Life is about moderation". Here's an excerpt:
I am the mother of a son who started to play poker the summer before his senior year. Until that time he had very few friends and a very limited social life, and then a phone call came asking him to fill in on a poker game. He was reluctant, but both my husband and I urged him to try it. Suddenly he had a social life. He and his friends went out to dinner and movies on Friday; Saturdays were reserved for poker. Generally they played a tournament with a $10 buy-in. The games usually started at 6:30 and went to about midnight. I don't know what kind of entertainment these boys could find for $10 that would take up an entire evening. Some Saturday nights my house had 20 boys playing poker. There was never any smoking, drinking or problem with behavior.

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