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Poker Parenting: 4 Ways Poker Skills Produce Parenting Thrills

Even as a busy parent, I'm sure you've seen a poker show on TV or at least heard your friends or relatives talking about it. You might even be someone who's caught up in the poker craze of the past two years, riding the wave of a steep learning curve. As an avid poker player and father of two, I realize more each day how my poker skills help me raise my kids. Want to know how? Here are four ways to turn your poker skills into parenting thrills:

Play the Hand You're Dealt
No Limit Texas Hold Em is exciting to play because any hand can win. And that's what separates a professional from an amateur -- the ability to win pots with bad hands.

The same is true for fatherhood. The "hand we're dealt" is the family environment we grew up in. Let's face it -- none of us grew up in an ideal environment, just as none of us gets dealt a pair of aces every hand. But the beauty of No Limit Texas Hold Em -- and fatherhood -- is that any hand can win; it all depends on how you play it.

Give Action to Get Action
In poker, you should occasionally play hands you wouldn't normally play, in order to "give action" to other players. Then when you have a good hand and bet, those players are more likely to give the action back to you.

So what kind of action are you giving your kids? Do you play games they like to play, even if they seem silly? Do you regularly attend their school events? Are you there during difficult times? Even if you're not interested in the activity, your involvement shows genuine interest in your children. They might not understand that message, but they will feel it, and that's much more important.

Look for Diamonds in the Muck
We're never quite prepared for the shocks and challenges that life deals us. Our daughter, Ashley, was only two when my wife and I discovered she had diabetes. Our lifestyle changed dramatically as we learned to control this disease.

What can parents do when experiencing a bad beat like this? Look for diamonds in the muck. In other words, look for the positive in a negative experience.

One of the positives of Ashley's diabetes is learning to be disciplined and have self-control. She can't simply follow her impulses to eat whatever she wants, whenever she wants. As a diabetic teenager someday, that discipline will help her when she is studying in high school.

The Thrill (and Chill) of Going All In
"I'm all in" -- three words every poker player loves to say. It's do-or-die when you commit all your chips. So what does going all in as a father mean? It means making an all-out commitment to your kids.

Dropping them off or picking them up from daycare or school. Eating some dinners together as a family each week. Helping them solve problems with their friends. What commitments do you make on a consistent basis?

Fatherhood brings lots of work and responsibility, so going all in can be chilling -- a daunting task with little reward. If you think of all the little ways you're building a relationship with your kids, going all in is thrilling -- and many of the rewards come years later. But that kind of sums up parenting doesn't it?

To learn more about relating poker to parenting, research on fatherhood, and fatherhood organizations, go to and click on Tele-seminars. Treat yourself or a father you know to Mark's tele-seminar on June 16, a unique Father's Day gift.


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