Cognitive Benefits That Make Poker The New Chess

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Brain health is vital to everyday life. As such, it is crucial to keep the brain healthy by engaging it in different activities. Games are a great way to do this as they are fun and require mental fortitude. Chess is famously known for promoting brain health, with studies showing that it can reduce dementia and ADHD. Yet while chess is very accessible and can be played by anyone, many people much prefer playing poker. This is because the cognitive skills for chess are very applicable, as shown by chess champion Magnus Carlson recently playing a number of poker tournaments. If you are looking to improve your cognitive skills this is why poker is just as good as chess.

It keeps you level-headed

Poker and chess are very similar in how very quickly a good game can turn into a bad one. In chess this is called a blunder, where you make a move that gives your opponent a huge advantage, such as losing a piece without taking one in return of falling for a tactical trap. In poker, despite all the skills you have, it still comes down to which cards are dealt. You can easily lose a winning hand on the river card. This is why level-headedness plays a significant role in helping you win at poker because it keeps you humble and rational. Even when you think you’re winning, you must not assume things until after the showdown.

Practicing being level headed in poker will have a positive impact on your life as you will be able to deal with difficult situations objectively.

It enhances memory

Memorization is a big aspect of poker and chess. In chess you need to know how the pieces move and the specific rules, such as a passing pawn, remember different openings in order to get an advantage, and be observant of how your player is playing to avoid traps. In poker it is much the same. You need to remember the different hand rankings (especially beginners), how your opponents are betting, and probability calculations based on what has been dealt. This is why a study on the relationship between games and dementia even confirms how poker helps improve memory and thinking performance. Since you need to remember more as the rounds pass by, playing poker often is a sociable and enjoyable way to keep the memory working in optimal condition.

It improves decision-making

Just like chess, a game of poker requires multiple decision-making moves. Whether it’s to make a call, fold, raise, or bluff, the game will always revolve around making choices. These will determine whether you win or lose in the end, so you develop a good database of when you’re right and wrong. And in both cases you have to make decisions fast in order to not lose the advantage.

The decision-making skills you get in playing poker are useful in daily life, whether it is day-to-day decisions or life changing choices. This ability will only improve the more you play poker because you will be exposed to different situations and types of players every time. The repeated reinforcement of possibilities and their corresponding results exercises the brain and trains it to make better decisions in real life.

It increases creativity

Most 1v1 strategy games like poker and chess are good ways to increase your creativity. This is because you’re pushed to change your playing style to keep winning. After all, you can’t keep making the same moves or using the same strategy because other players will catch on to your plan. Poker games contribute to brain function by forcing it to come up with different strategies depending on the table’s situation, improving its health and condition. 

Keeping your brain healthy is a must to ensure overall health. With these cognitive benefits of poker, consider playing this game once in a while. If you liked this piece, check out more of our gaming articles here.

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