January 31, 2023
10 Real-Life Benefits of Playing Poker
It’s no secret that being a good poker player takes a lot of skill. Some of the most important skills of a great poker player include focus, attention to detail, critical thinking, decision-making, memorization, math, and emotional intelligence. But these skills don’t stop at the poker table — while playing poker, you can sharpen vital skills that actually help you in your everyday life.
Interested to see how learning to play poker can change your life?
Check out these 10 real-life benefits of playing poker:
- Builds social skills.
- Helps with emotional control.
- Develops a more productive relationship with failure.
- Improves decision-making capabilities.
- Promotes focus.
- Boosts math skills.
- Exercises the brain.
- Reduces risk of developing certain neurological disorders.
- Reminds us that practice is key.
- Makes it easier to establish and keep routines.
Builds Social Skills
One of the most important aspects of poker is being able to read body language. You learn to look for “tells” — signs that someone is stressed, bluffing, or really happy with their hand — and apply that information to your strategy on the fly. Plus, you also have to be good at exhibiting the right body language at the table to throw people off your scent.
Poker teaches you how to “read the table” literally and figuratively. This skill can be incredibly helpful in any situation, from trying to sell to someone to giving a great presentation or leading a group.
Helps With Emotional Control
You’ve heard of a poker face. But it’s more than just keeping a straight face — you have to keep your cool when things aren’t going your way and stop yourself from smiling about the amazing hand you’ve just been dealt.
Poker helps us practice suppressing distracting emotions, like fear, anxiety, and elation, when the time calls for it. When we can put these feelings aside, we’re better able to control impulses and build patience, both of which are equally important in poker as they are in any situation in your personal or professional life.
Develops a More Productive Relationship With Failure
If you want to get better at poker, you have to learn to handle losing and see failure as an opportunity to improve. For instance, every hand you lose, you should go back and figure out what went wrong and what you missed. Then identify the solution and work on anticipating that situation in future hands. You can then apply this perspective to other situations in your life to develop a healthier relationship with failure that pushes you to keep getting better.
Additionally, the emotional control and decision-making skills you build when playing poker also teach you to determine when it’s best to step back, regain composure, and gather new information before another round or fold altogether when the odds just aren’t in your favor — both in life and at the table.
Improves Decision-Making Capabilities
Poker is about making logical decisions under pressure using a large variety of information, like opponents’ body language, probabilities, other players’ strategies, next moves, etc. Assessing all this information and thinking through potential counter moves can boost your overall abilities to think critically, review information, assess risk, and make logical decisions in any scenario.
The emotion management abilities you gain from playing poker combine with these enhanced decision-making capabilities, too. In that way, you get better at making decisions based on information rather than feelings.
You have to be present during every game — every hand — of poker to really understand what’s going on. That includes online poker, even if you’re playing multiple tables. You have to focus on observing your opponents, identifying strategies, calculating probabilities, and managing your emotions. So, poker improves your ability to focus on tasks, especially complex ones.
Boosts Math Skills
Becoming a better poker player means getting good at calculating probabilities — like implied odds and pot odds — which help you determine whether you should call, raise, or fold. The more you play poker, the more quick math skills you develop overall.
Exercises the Brain
Critical thinking and analysis are literal exercises for the mind. Your brain builds and strengthens neural pathways every time you process information. This helps develop myelin, which is a fiber that protects these pathways. The more information you process, the more myelin you build up and the stronger your brain can function.
We’ve talked a lot about how poker helps you develop many cognitive skills, so poker is a great way to exercise your brain and keep it sharp.
Reduces Risk of Developing Certain Neurological Disorders
Regular exercise can help keep you healthy and combat disease. The same goes for your brain — the more you use and exercise your brain, the less likely you are to develop certain neurological disorders that impact your brain’s function. Many studies link cognitive games that rely on memory, focus, critical thinking, and analysis to fewer instances or less severe cases of conditions like Alzheimer’s.
Poker is one of those cognitive games, alongside chess, Sudoku, crosswords, and mahjong.
Reminds Us That Practice Is Key
No one is automatically a master of any skill, poker included. You have to train yourself in strategy and learn as much as you can about the game through resources like poker books, poker podcasts, watching poker streamers, or taking online poker training courses. Training in poker reinforces the importance of “practice makes perfect,” or at least better.
In addition, learning to play poker can also improve your ability to study a skill. This process promotes discipline, motivation, accountability, and not taking the easy way out — otherwise, you won’t see improvement in whatever skill you’re building.
Makes It Easier To Establish and Keep Routines
One of the most important things about a poker face or persona is to not give away any information about your hand, if possible. That means creating a routine of movements and gestures that shield other players from learning anything.
So if you can create and keep a routine at the poker table, which becomes like muscle memory after a while, you may be better motivated and prepared to do the same in other areas of your life. This is especially true if you have a poker training routine, too, as this instills discipline.
Ready to develop and refine your life skills at the table? Read our reviews of the best online casinos in New Jersey that offer online poker. You can even find live poker rooms at your favorite online casinos like Caesars, BetMGM, and more!