The Mental Benefits of Poker


Poker is a game that requires a great deal of mental discipline. Not only do you have to think critically and logically in order to count your chips and come up with a strategy, but you also have to control your emotions at the table and conceal any tells that might give away your hand strength. Poker is a lot like chess in that sense, and it’s an excellent way to learn how to concentrate under pressure.

Poker is also a great way to practice making decisions under uncertainty. When you’re at the poker table, you’ll never know what cards other players are holding or how they’ll bet or play with them. This type of decision making is similar to deciding under uncertainty in finance, and it’s important for anyone who wants to make money from poker to be able to do it well.

Another thing that poker helps you learn is how to read other players. This is an essential skill in poker, and it’s not just about subtle physical poker “tells,” but about understanding patterns. For example, if a player rarely raises their bet or folds early in the hand, they’re likely playing pretty crappy cards. By knowing how to read other players, you can increase the value of your strong hands and force weaker ones to call or raise your bets.

As if that wasn’t enough, regular poker practice can actually help to rewire your brain and reduce the chance of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in later life. Studies have shown that consistent mental activity, whether it’s poker or another game, can stimulate new neural pathways and create new nerve fibers in your brain. These changes in the brain are attributed to increased memory and better mental clarity, both of which are necessary to be a successful poker player.