Many people ask whether there can really be benefits to playing poker, when it simply consists of sitting round a table, or using a laptop and taking minimal exercise. Surely health benefits are the result of exercise activities such as jogging, swimming or golf?
Keeping our brains healthy
To an extent, this is true. However, it is now known that to retain an active brain and to ward off degenerative memory diseases, we need to stimulate our analytical and thinking processes. With our brain function, it’s a case of “use it or lose it”.
Poker has an ideal mix of skill, calculation and chance to keep our brains enjoyably stimulated while we are playing. Once players have understood the composition of winning hands, every card that is dealt prompts them to reconfigure their calculations as to how good thir hand is, compared with the other players around the table.
This involves logical thinking and looking at the odds of a certain event happening. But it can also involve observation of the other players, especially in online live dealer games. This can help people to build their social skills by understanding what is motivating their competitors’ behaviour.
Poker as relaxation
Poker is an unusual pastime in health terms, because while it stimulates the brain it is also relaxing. In that respect, it is a bit like crosswords which challenge the brain but have been reported recently, to cause a dopamine rush when the solver gets a clue right. Poker is rather similar – its combination of mental agility, judgement and quick thinking are actually relaxing.
So how do I get started?
Most people play online, and there’s a great beginner’s guide to casino games online. For those with stressful jobs, an absorbing game such as poker, can provide welcome relief from the demands of work.
Both as a brain preserver and a stress antidote, poker can definitely contribute to good health.