You don’t have to be Rain Man to play poker… but it helps. And the simple fact is that, by playing for long periods of time, and really training your mind, you’ll improve your math skills, as well as your general cognition. If you think of the mind as a muscle, then you’re simply working it out by keeping it so active. Poker is a game with some aspects of chance in individual rounds. But over the course of an entire game, the best players will rise to the top and make their own luck through intricate understandings of probabilities.
Math is known to be one of the prime activities that can help to build muscles in the brain. In fact, along with science, the subject is said to rewire how your brain works due to the incessant search for patterns and connections.
There are, of course, many ways to keep our brains sharp. Increasingly, this is becoming something of an obsession in society, as we search for better ways of improving brain power. And poker could be just the ticket for that brain power you so dearly want.
Poker players are always learning. And when you’re learning, you are exercising your brain. First and foremost, when you’re a poker beginner there are a lot of rules and procedures to learn. You have to study the fundamental concepts and the different varieties of the game, and hold them in your mind. Gradually, the rules cement themselves in your brain. But the learning doesn’t stop. More subtle cues about the people around you, their facial expressions and the probabilities of certain cards and hands continue to infiltrate your mind, as you learn.
Memory is a key part of cognition, and is said to also work a little like a muscle. Although you likely can’t count cards, you will start to paint a picture of the numbers of the cards you’ve seen so far in any given round… as well as the ones that might come up in the near future. This keeps your brain active, and might help you with memory in other parts of life. It stands to reason that if you can recall dozens of numbers, then you’ll do better at remembering what you needed to get from the shops.
In poker, you’re simulating a stressful and high-stakes situation in which you have to make important split-second decisions that will have an impact on how the game unfolds. This will do wonders for your confidence and your decision making. Next time you have an important business decision to make, you might just deal a little better with the stress, and weigh up all the options before making your call.
A huge part of poker is reading other people. You learn to fixate on the muscle movements of their faces, as well as their body language and general demeanor. You become better able to make quick decisions about people around you based on their behavior. This is never fool-proof, because everyone reacts a little differently. But it will certainly give you a better insight into people, which can help in your relationships, whether platonic, romantic or commercial.