Teach Your Kid How To Kill People…

I taught Mollie poker. I told her you have to learn how to kill people and this is the easiest way to start.

She said, “What do you mean?”

“You have to want to destroy me. To confuse me. To lie to me. To completely obliterate me, take all my money, and laugh in my face so I feel so bad and disgusted that I’ll be nervous the next time we play.”

I taught her the rules. Then we divided up some chips and started playing.

I said, “You’re only 14 so if you get good at poker, you won’t need to go to college. If you get really good at this, you’ll always find ways to survive.”

“How?” she said.

“Trust me.”

We went back and forth on some hands. She started to try and bluff me sometimes and sometimes it worked.

Sometimes she would bluff, win the hand, and show the cards to make me feel bad that I got bluffed so easily. I was proud.

We played all evening rather than go to a museum. We ordered delivery.

The next day we played again. Sometimes she would “slow play” me. She’d have a monster hand and bet slowly at first to lure me in.

If I didn’t end up with my own big hand, she’d win a lot of money from me. I was proud of her that she was starting to learn the subtleties.

But I also told her that in general, “play your hand”. If you have a good hand, bet aggressive. If you have a weak hand, just get out.

I also told her, “Rarely just call my bet. Either fold or raise me. Be aggressive so I am always challenged.”

“Also, if you always slow play me when you have a big hand, you are giving me too many chances to get a better hand.”

We took a break to go to the bookstore. She showed me her favorite books.

I want to write a young adult novel and asked her which ones I should read. She showed me her favorites.

“Don’t make the popular girls so mean.” She gave me advice on cliches that bad writers do. “Girls who are always mean to everyone don’t end up popular.”

Good advice.

Later we were lying around doing nothing. Like I like to do every afternoon and evening. It’s my most productive activity.

She said, “Do you want to play poker?” And I did. So we played some more. We played until the moment she had to pack to go back to her home.

We started analyzing each hand, bet by bet. I was having fun.

Then I realized: she didn’t care at all about poker.

She just wanted to spend time with me. After a few hours of this she had to go home and I won’t see her again for at least a week.

Two people communicate best when they speak the same language. She figured out the languages I liked to speak.

I don’t know if I did the same for her.

She killed me.


Related reading: There’s No Painless Way To Kill Yourself 


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  • It’s an amazing post and I learned a lesson (as usual) from reading it.
    But why did yo use such a clickbaitish title? Is it marketing? She didn’t “kill” you in any sense. She won you, where winning has the same meaning it has in one of the best book eve: “how to win friends and influence people”, by Dale Carnegie :)

  • Jon Tucich

    Hi James,

    Similar to you, I had limited time with my daughter. Our ‘thing’ wasn’t poker but video games on the computer. Usually the same game, but not against each other. As we progressed in the game, we would compare how we each got through a level or solved a puzzle. But most of the time we were just sitting in the same room, on different computers, sharing time with each other.

    I learned later that these were some of her most favorite memories. I expect you’ll learn the same – later.

  • As a daddy’s girl who lost hers suddenly earlier this year, I say keep speaking the same language! She will thank you forever! Ours was history and creating great ideas!

  • Rafeeq Warfield

    I’m a big fan of Ryan Holiday and discovered your blog through him. This and every other post I’ve read so far has made me laugh and think. I appreciate your blog, it’s hard to find a good one. Keep it up, man.

  • Fabian

    I don’t think it’s good advice. You should teach her to be able to avoid people, like you teach in your blog; write books, trade, build an internet business, etc. Because when you go into the killing game you will sooner that later fall on somebody who will kill you. Just look at the UFC if you don’t believe me.

  • andy1723

    Why am I feeling so sad reading this…

  • Julie

    When I was younger, we used to spend one weekend a month with our father. He used to rent 2 movies and one video game for the weekend. We had to stay in the basement or go play outside because we were too ”messy” for his brand new house… The only time we were seeing him was at dinner, when we had to eat and smile while he was telling us about all of his accomplishments… or, sometimes, would completely ignore us.

    Needless to say, we couldn’t wait for Sunday night to come…

    I commend you for spending quality time with her; you have no idea how valuable that is!