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How Poker Improves Cognitive Performance

Cognitive issues are more prevalent than you might think. In the UK alone, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 500,000 people, accounting for 50-70% of all dementia types. While Alzheimer’s usually affects those in old age, it’s possible to see an early onset, even for those under the age of 65. This is why doctors suggest activities that help maintain cognitive function such as reading, completing puzzles, and playing games. That said, poker is actually a fantastic choice, as it stimulates the brain well and offers the following benefits.

Improves concentration

One of the most important benefits of playing poker is that it can substantially improve your concentration. Each round can be more intense than the last, and so players must constantly pay attention to keep up. Because there’s so much going on at the table, the mind works harder to process that information, allowing your thoughts to become more streamlined and focused. Through poker, your brain can train itself to hone in on tasks more, which can have a huge impact on your daily life as well.

Enhances decision-making skills

Since poker requires skill, quick-thinking, and strategy formulation, it can improve your overall decision-making skills. The constant weighing of options sharpens the brain and encourages players to visualize how the game will unfold depending on their decisions. Poker and decision-making skills aren’t natural talents. On the contrary, they are to be developed through practice. In time, you’ll get better at thinking in probabilities, and you’ll make more accurate and more educated decisions, even for matters outside of poker.

Creates social interactions

If you check out any guide to poker, you’ll learn that the game is often played by at least two people; furthermore, different versions require different numbers. Poker is well-loved because it can bring people together, and requires people to interact on a regular basis. Socialization improves cognitive function greatly, especially for older adults. In fact, research has shown that a lack of social interaction can affect cognition negatively. Whether it be through playing poker online, at a casino, or a social gathering, you will always find a thriving community you can engage with, and even learn from.

Encourages creativity

Abstract and creative thinking is often required in poker, especially when you’re trying to figure out what your opponents’ hands are. Observation and theorizing other players’ body language, eye contact, and other mannerisms help keep your imagination and your mind alive when playing poker. You’ll also be able to act accordingly during your bluffs, and you can get more confident and creative with your responses the more you play.

Teaches you mindfulness

The link between healthy cognitive function and emotional control is often underestimated. Playing poker can improve not only technical but also your rational decision-making skills. The term tilting in poker refers to emotions that can cause you to lose your ability to make sound, sensible decisions. This can be triggered by losses, provocation, or unexpected turns of events during the game. Compulsive gambling is an example of an addiction that can stem from unhealthy cognitive functioning. But on the flip side, when you play poker with restraint and mindfulness, you’ll be able to practice dealing with triggers and managing your emotions.

In conclusion, poker is a great way to maintain your cognitive health. In time, you’ll be able to see the effects of playing regularly — your mind will thank you later.