Why We Should Teach Children How to Gamble

Ironman By Ironman, 24th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1p0zu7bb/
Posted in Wikinut>Gambling>Peer To Peer

Gambling has long been held as a societal evil, breaking up families, forcing people to lose their jobs, so much so that it falls under the authoritative arm of the government. However, we gamble every day, not necessarily with money, and teaching children to learn about risk will actually help them stay away from gambling in the future.

Gambling - It's more than Craps and Roulette

Gambling has long been perceived as an evil in society. People gamble to win money fast, a sign of greed. People get addicted to the thrill of gambling, mimicking the effects of a narcotic in the short term. Finally, gamblers will always eventually lose, leaving broken homes and relationships in their wake. While this is inevitably true of certain gambling ("the house always wins"), there's much more gambling done on a day to day basis, and teaching children about risk will actually make them better decision makers in the future.

Gambling itself can be defined as wagering on an event with an uncertain outcome. Whether it's defined by luck (dice or cards) or skill (shooting hoops, or playing billiards), it doesn't matter as long as the outcome is uncertain. When most people speak of the evils of gambling, they are mostly talking about house games at a casino (blackjack, roulette, craps, etc.). What they don't realize, is we gamble every day, just not in obvious ways.

Everyday Gambling

We gamble every day, however the wagers we make aren't always related to money. We gamble our time every time we make a decision on which route to take or where to go for lunch. We gamble our health when we eat certain foods. Heck, we even gamble with our lives when we drive in a car. The big differences between everyday gambling and casino gambling has to do with risk vs. reward. Sure, we gamble with our lives when we drive, but the risk of the benefit of transportation (getting to work for example) far outweighs the minute chance of dying in a car crash. If the odds of dying suddenly increased (e.g. during a horrible snow storm), then it would make more sense to not drive. Seeing as more people stay home during bad weather, we seem to know what decisions to make.

Learning the Odds

Ultimately, the reason we engage in certain behaviors is because we know the benefits outweigh the risks. In gambling for money, we then need to calculate the risk vs. reward factor. If I were to gamble $1 on the flip of a coin, winning my money back and an extra dollar if I win, it would be pointless as in the long run, I would expect to break even.

However, if I only won 95 cents for every dollar I wagered, then my opponent would be guaranteed to force me to go broke if we played long enough. On average, I would lose 5 cents per wager, losing a dollar when I lose, but only winning 95 cents when I win. This is the basic house edge. Casinos force you to gamble with the worst of it.

Alternatively, if I could win $1.05 for every dollar I wagered, then I would be guaranteed to make money if we played the game long enough. My opponent would ultimately go broke. Of course, you won't find this game in any casino, they're too smart for that.

So, how does teaching children the odds help? Once they learn mathematics and can figure out all casino games are losing games, be it roulette, blackjack, or craps, they will be less likely to play those games thinking they will hit it big.

Where this also comes into play is finding positive expected value wagers. It will teach them to assess risk vs. reward, whether it be investing in the stock market, finding a sports team to wager on, or simply what decisions to make. Children will naturally internalize this process, figure out what they stand to gain or lose, the probabilities of each outcome and then make the best decision they can. Like all forms of gambling, with luck, the decisions don't always turn out right, but in the long run, knowing how to assess different risks and rewards will lead to a better outcome, money or otherwise.


Casino, Gambling, Learning, Math, Odds, Poker, Risk, Statistics, Teaching

Meet the author

author avatar Ironman
Teacher, Programmer, Poker Player, Game Show contestant, and Ironman Triathlete. Jack of all Trades!

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author avatar d3oxys
11th May 2014 (#)

I have the same opinion....if childrens could learn some more about odds and profit/cash balance maybe theirs math interest will be higher and improved

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