5 Cognitive Benefits of Playing Poker


Poker is a game that many people play for fun or to relax, while others take it very seriously and strive to become professional players. Many people believe that poker has a number of cognitive benefits, including better calculation skills, improved mental arithmetic, and learning to make decisions based on logic rather than emotion. The cognitive skills acquired by playing poker can help with career advancement, business dealings, and everyday life.

1. Improved Calculation Skills

Poker involves a lot of math, from the basic addition and subtraction to the more complex multiplication and division. The constant calculation involved in the game helps you to become a more proficient decision-maker and makes you a much stronger mathematician. This is an invaluable skill that will come in handy in a number of areas in your life.

2. Better Decision-making

One of the most important things you can learn from poker is how to make good decisions on the fly. You have to evaluate your opponents and their betting patterns, and then decide what your best move is. This kind of thinking is invaluable in all aspects of your life, from making business deals to deciding whether or not to go out on a date.

3. Improved Mental Toughness

Poker is a mentally tough game, and you need to be able to handle losing and winning in order to get better. Watch a video of Phil Ivey taking bad beats, and you’ll see how he keeps his cool no matter what happens. It’s this ability to remain calm and think clearly under pressure that makes the best players so successful.

4. Better Understanding of Pot Odds

A common mistake that new poker players make is calling with their draws when the odds aren’t in their favor. This is a huge mistake, and it’s important to understand how to calculate pot odds before you play. You’ll also need to know how to use them to your advantage, and to raise your bets when you have strong hands to force weaker players out of the pot.

5. Patience

Learning to be patient is one of the most difficult parts of poker, but it’s essential if you want to be a good player. You need to be able to wait for strong hands and avoid playing too many weak ones, which can be tempting if you’re losing. Patience can help you win more games in the long run, so it’s something that all poker players should strive for.

6. Observation Skills

Poker requires observation skills, and you need to be able to read your opponent’s body language to pick up on tells. You can develop these skills by observing experienced players and considering how they would react to certain situations. This will allow you to adjust your strategy on the fly, and it’s also an excellent way to brush up on your poker knowledge.

While many people think that playing poker is just a waste of time, the truth is that it has a number of positive cognitive benefits that can improve your life in various ways. The next time you sit down at a poker table, try to remember these lessons and improve your game.