Proven Way to Learn to Play Texas Hold’Em: Why Color Up’s Poker Flash Cards Work
Color Up was created to address a gap in the instruction of poker. Many books, videos, and websites explain the basics of Texas Hold’em. Some even provide examples or opportunities to practice. And of course, players can always take the risk and learn by playing. Unfortunately, this often also means learning by losing.
The creator of Color Up comes from a psychology and education background, with nearly a decade of experience in working to support learners, particularly struggling students. Working with those who face the greatest obstacles to learning the basics (such as reading or math) is an illuminating way to see how the brain works.
Much of the existing poker literature is authored or presented by experts – those who already “get” poker. Unfortunately, being a poker expert does not make one an expert poker teacher. What existing poker books, videos, and websites usually lack are the educationally sound practices that those in the education field have long understood to be crucial to teaching any subject, academic or not. Ask any sixteen year old how great their parents were at teaching them to drive – we may know how to do it without thinking, but trying to explain it to a teenager has most of us slamming on the imaginary brakes and gritting our teeth. The human brain works and learns in particular ways, and psychologists and teachers have studied how to maximize human learning for decades.
Color Up has applied this educational research to create a faster, easier way to learn poker that actually works. Players learn, practice, and encode into memory basic Hold’em rules and strategy, and then are given opportunities to make decisions with their newly-acquired skills. Flash cards are a proven teaching tool that improves recall over time, and allows opportunities for repeated practice in an engaging format – all crucial to true mastery of any skill.
The Value of Flash Cards
Many people have experienced flash cards in an educational context. Flash cards have been used to teach reading, math, and foreign languages for decades. Part of the reason flash cards have such a long tenure in education is their efficacy. Presenting information in sequences and steps allows students to absorb information one piece at a time. This is true whether the student is a five-year-old learning sight words or a fifty-year-old practicing vocabulary for a business trip to France.
While memorizing small pieces of information is useful, it alone will not advance a learner’s knowledge. Information must progress in difficulty from basic to advanced, building momentum and skill. Known in education jargon as “scaffolding,” this is exactly what Color Up flash cards do by building from simple (vocabulary practice, memorization of a formula) to advanced tasks (decision-making, real-hand scenarios). Also important is the concept of “differentiation,” where students working at different paces require different amounts of information and support. In the absence of one-on-one Texas Hold’em tutoring sessions, Color Up flash cards provide chances for learners to self-monitor and focus their practice. A player who has strong mastery of the poker terms in the Hold’em 101 deck can leave those cards behind and focus on the hand rankings. Research has shown that learners do best when given opportunities for rest between sessions of learning, a context provided perfectly by flash cards (Pashler et al., 2007). In the same study, Pashler and his colleagues found that learning and memory of learned information were improved when students received immediate corrective feedback for wrong answers, with explanations, and later showed markedly improved results on future tests (2007).
The Value of Learning by Doing
Even if flash cards are great for memorization, what starts as “drill and skill” can quickly become “drill and kill.” Learners do best when given the opportunity to take an active role in their self-education, which is why Color Up products contain scenarios and applied practice. This achieves a balance of memorization and application that helps poker players learn, retain, and practice the knowledge they are building.
Educators have long understood that for students to learn, they must apply their learning in what has been dubbed “opportunity to respond” (Greenwood et al., 1984). After learning material, the learner must have a chance to apply their knowledge in an appropriate way. Color Up flash cards provide this opportunity in the form of “situational practice” cards. In these scenarios, the poker player is provided all the information in a hand, and must make the decision to call or fold using the mathematical tools and understanding of strategy that they practiced earlier in the deck. The question-and-answer format of flash cards ensures that learners are constantly engaging with the text of the deck, as opposed to passively reading a book or watching a video with no opportunity to test or practice their skills.
Learn more about how to play poker and win at Color Up Cards.
Caroline Mar is a teacher and writer from San Francisco. She has a Master’s in Education and works as department chair for the Special Education department at one of San Francisco Unified School District’s secondary schools. Her areas of expertise include curriculum design, differentiation, and Special Education. She’s also a beginner-level poker player.
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