How Playing Poker Can Improve Your Cognitive Function and Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age

As we age, our cognitive functions decline, impacting our problem-solving, concentration, memory skills, and even our ability to perform daily tasks. However, it is possible to keep our minds sharp with proper exercises. Just like in the case of any other muscle – and reduce the adverse effects of aging.

And while there are many ways to train your brain and boost your cognitive function e.g. playing chess, learning foreign languages and meditating. There is one thing that is both beneficial and enjoyable, playing poker.

You may not be aware of it, but poker can actually boost your cognitive skills in a variety of ways; memory, concentration, problem-solving, etc. – simultaneously. It is because, unlike slots or football betting (here, you can find the best football betting sites), poker is indeed a demanding and taxing game of skill.

Below, you will find the essential information about how playing poker can boost your cognitive skills. Read on!

Improves Memory Skills

When it comes to keeping your memory sharp, there are three key elements – regular exercises, eating healthy foods, and cognitive stimulation. That being said, poker is a great way to train the mind. It is a game that challenges players to develop strategy and skill over time. You will need to remember what’s happened and to use your memory of past hands and betting patterns to guide you.

Furthermore, уоu must recall other players’ winning hands and successful strategies to adapt and bet effectively. And, of course, your memory will be tested by remembering what cards each player has and how they’ve played them in the past and using that information to guide your decisions on future betting.

Given that poker forces you to keep track of the cards and how the players have bet, it has been proven a great way to improve your memory skills, especially your working memory (the brain’s short-term storage area) and procedural memory.

Boosts Concentration

Playing poker is a complex activity, requiring a lot of concentration. It is a task that requires you to focus on a variety of different things at once. You are trying to figure out your opponents’ strategies and bets while recalling your own cards.

As a result, playing poker makes you focus on multiple variables at the same time, which is excellent practice for keeping your mind sharp in terms of concentration. This will be particularly useful in your daily life when you have to multitask and handle different things at once.

Expands Creativity

One of the most important aspects of poker is creativity. You will need to think creatively when dealing with the cards in your hand – trying to figure out how you can use them to make the best possible bets. And when it comes to that, there are countless possibilities – you can bluff, fold, or play your hand in any manner you want. It is up to you and your creative mind!

As a result, poker is a great way to train your mind and enhance your creative thinking and skills. What’s more, this will come in handy in your day-to-day life, when you will need to think outside the box and approach situations and challenges in a creative manner.

Leads to Better Sleep

Another great benefit that poker can bring to you is getting better sleep at night. As you remember, playing poker is a complex activity that requires a lot of concentration and focus. And while it is an entertaining activity, it is challenging and taxing as well. As a result, after a game, you will most likely feel tired or even exhausted, making it easier for you to relax and fall asleep.

Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing public health issue. The number of people suffering from it has been rising for decades. While there is still no cure for it, there are many ways of preventing it. Playing poker has been proven one of the most effective games at battling Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Cummings’ research, playing poker twice a week may decrease a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s by 50% or more. It challenges your mind and stimulates different brain areas, including the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with decision-making and memory.

Dr. Cummings explained the positive results that older people experience from playing poker. “We have a social idea of what retirement consists of and we need to re-examine that idea. The logical extension of the data we have on dementia is that a person who is still capable of working – who is mentally stimulated with a strong sense of purpose – is better off from the cognitive point of view continuing to engage in that position.”

Improves Social Skills

Playing poker is, of course, a social activity. It is something you can do with your friends or other people around you – both in real life and online. And, as it turns out, it is a great way to develop your social skills, as it helps you learn how to read people’s emotions and detect their personality traits. That being said, it is also a great way to pick up on social cues and develop your ability to communicate with others.

Boosts Your Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is a process during which the brain forms new connections between neurons and even new neurons. And because our brain never stops changing and adapting to our needs and environment, it is essential to keep stimulating it by challenging ourselves mentally. In other words, if we don’t challenge our minds, they will stop functioning properly and deteriorate over time.

And while there are many ways of doing that, one of the most enjoyable things to do is playing poker. Furthermore, you will improve your cognitive function and reduce the negative effects of aging by rewiring your brain and, therefore, enhancing your neuroplasticity with frequent playing. So, if you want to keep your mind as young as possible for as long as possible, there is no better way than playing poker.

Final Note

As you can see, poker is great for your brain and your overall health. It helps you relax and get a good night’s sleep and also stimulates your mind and keeps it sharp and healthy as you age.

However, keep in mind that just playing poker won’t do wonders on its own. You can’t neglect sticking to a balanced diet and ignore staying physically active. But, if you combine playing poker with other cognitive exercises, such as learning a foreign language or solving crossword puzzles, you will ensure that you keep your mind young and active throughout your life!

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Narciso Baldo is the Director of Texas Hold'em Questions and Head Coach too. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also guest writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: info@texasholdemquestions.com