#myfavfriday Math Poker

Math Poker is a game I learned from Heather Hart at a NCTM conference and I've used it before. But for some reason it has been more popular this year.

The way it works is that every student starts with $100. They make a bet based on if they think they can do the problem or not, before seeing the actual problem. If they get the problem correct, they add the money to their total. If they're wrong, they subtract it. Once a student reaches $0, they must borrow money from me, the International Bank of Miller. But they only get $10 at a time and to get it, they have to randomly draw one of my index cards, and do whatever the card says.

And of course that's the best part. For example: Do a cartwheel, Hold your left foot in your right hand and hop around the room, Go to the classroom next door and say "I have a gambling problem" and walk away, Say two nice things about the principal, etc.

My freshman absolutely loved it. I used it to teach compound inequalities. We start with simple one step qualities, moving up to multi-step, variables on both sides, and then compound inequalities. I would just do one example with them and then they were so eager to continue to playing that that's all I really needed to do.

I think we played it for 3 days in a row and they thought it was SO fun. It was hardly any work on my end and all I did during class was click to the next slide. They spent three full periods working problems non-stop and I can't really ask for much better than that.

You can also have students trade papers to check for accuracy. And I guarantee you will have at least one student who will bet everything every time and eventually lose. That's what keeps the motivation going, plus just asking who has the most money gets them riled up.

Here are some links:

Inequalities Poker (ppt, doc1, doc2)
Segment Bisector Poker (ppt, doc)

If you need ideas of funny things to do for your index cards, I would be happy to share some more of what I have used.


  1. Great post! And just in time because I am doing inequalities this week. I would love to hear what you wrote on your index cards, though I have a few fun ideas myself. Thanks!

  2. Shared this with my algebra I team and we all played the game yesterday as we reviewed solving linear equations containing parentheses. The students AND teachers loved it! In fact my classes loved it so much I had to promise them we would play again today after the lesson on solving equations with variables on both sides.

    1. Such a simple idea- glad it worked so well for you!

  3. I'd love to hear some more of your fun ideas for the cards!

  4. Do a Michael Jackson dance move, run around the room for 30 seconds, sing the ABC song, rub your tummy and pat your head for 30 seconds, recite the first 10 digits of pi, do 3 ballerina moves, sing part of any Justin Bieber song for 10 seconds, and that's all I can think of at the moment.

  5. I think this would be a really fun game in school. We only play online poker games and have used poker equity calculator it calculates bluff equity in any poker situation.