The Benefits of Playing Poker


A poker game involves betting between two or more players and is played with a standard 52-card deck. A hand consists of five cards, and players must decide whether to call, raise, or fold. Often, decisions are made on the basis of probability – knowing how to calculate pot odds can help a player make more informed choices.

Being able to read your opponents’ body language is a key component of successful poker. Being able to pick up on tells that an opponent is stressed, happy, bluffing, or even just bored can help you adjust your strategy accordingly. This skill is also transferable to real life situations and can make you a more effective communicator.

Poker requires a lot of brain power. It can be very tiring, and it’s not uncommon for players to feel exhausted at the end of a game or tournament. However, this is a good thing because it means your brain has been working hard to process the information it has been given. Regularly processing information will rewire neural pathways and build up myelin, a protective coating that helps the brain function efficiently.

Poker can teach you a lot about human behaviour and yourself. For example, writer Kristen Konnikova used her skills at the poker table to secure herself a mentorship with Erik Seidel, who is widely considered to be the Michael Jordan of poker. Konnikova credits her mentorship with helping her level up her game exponentially. She says she learned a lot about herself as well, such as internalising gender stereotypes and being too passive at the table.