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Tianjin Holdem

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Works best with large (30+), older (grade 5+) classes.

First of all, explain the ranks of hands in Poker (high card, pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush). Also explain the order the cards go in (Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace). It's also not a bad idea to mention how popular this game is in America, that'll get them even more interested.

Give everyone in the class a card. Organize the class into some kind of groups. For example, in my classes there are 6 rows consisting of 5-7 students each. The teams have to decide how to make the best poker hand out of their cards. If there are 6-7 students, they'll need to decide which cards not to use. Students will undoubtedly have questions about their hands, so help them out and re-explain.

Give them a few minutes to decide, then have a representative from each team announce their hand. I've noticed that the teams will naturally have a leader emerge and a lot of the time it's a student who doesn't normally do a lot of speaking. Team with the best hand wins. The first time you play will be a bit confusing to them, but they'll get it.

Chris Mellon
Kingston, Ont.
Teaching in Beijing

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