Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, poker is one of the most thrilling and exciting games around. Nothing beats watching the assembled players, seeing if you can spot their tells and trying to crack their poker faces. When you win a hand, there’s no feeling quite like it. Still, you may not know that playing poker can have other unexpected benefits in terms of physical, mental, and even social skills. Here are ten benefits you might not have expected poker to bring if you play regularly.
You can make a living
It’s true; if you’re skilled and just a little lucky, it’s entirely possible to make a living playing poker. Indeed, many have already done so; consider the case of Dale Philip, who managed to make over £10,000 a month playing poker in his heyday. Of course, you will need to study extensively to ensure that you can play at the level required to make money; many people enter the professional circuit at an amateur level and don’t realise how difficult it can be. Still, it’s very, very attainable.
You can learn to understand people better
While you’re sitting around the poker table and watching your fellow players, you may not know it, but you’re actually developing your social skills. Keeping a close eye on the other players’ faces as they play teaches you to watch for body language and minor changes in demeanour; this can be an excellent way to enhance your day-to-day social interactions. Besides this, if you’re playing for fun, you’ll be able to chat to the other players and learn more about them as you play.
It’ll improve your concentration
Playing poker is a superb way to improve your concentration. Think about it; if you’re focusing on one game for hours at a time, you’ll need to be at the top of your game for that entire duration. If you notice your concentration waning during other activities, it’s a good idea to hone it before you start playing poker, but the mere act of getting into the game will ensure that you’re sharper, more focused, and better disposed to win as a result of those things.
You’ll improve your observational skills
In a similar way to improving your social skills, poker will also make you a better observer of people and their habits. This can be a serious boon for many professions. For example, if you’re a law enforcement officer, observation is a vital skill to help you catch criminals and understand their behaviour. It’s also a great help in industries like finance, education, and even catering. Poker can help you develop your observation skills by teaching you to watch people closely.
It will strengthen your emotional intelligence
Many of us suffer with low emotional intelligence. There could be many reasons for this: childhood trauma, a lack of good parenting, or any number of other causes. Poker can be a great way to improve your emotional intelligence for the simple reason that you will be feeling a great deal while you play. Moments where you’re winning will make you feel elated but losing can be pretty devastating. Learning to cope with these feelings and move past them will strengthen your emotional intelligence.
Your hand-eye coordination will improve
Believe it or not, poker can actually improve your hand-eye coordination. While the actual act of playing the game won’t necessarily strengthen this skill, you’ll probably find yourself absent-mindedly playing with your chips, your cards, or anything else in your surroundings. The mere act of moving your hands and using these manual skills will improve them, so the next time you need to do something complex with your hands, congratulate yourself on using poker as a self-improvement tool!
Your willpower will improve
Much like hand-eye coordination and observational skills, willpower is an important trait for poker players to bring to the table. The act of playing poker, however, will also improve your willpower in and of itself. If you’re playing, you’ll need to summon the willpower to push through poor decisions or bad luck, and each game you play will subtly improve your ability to do so. This is a skill that translates very well to real life and will have many real-world applications.
You’ll gain a better understanding of money management
By playing poker, you’ll gain a better understanding of money management. This particular skill will, of course, require you to put some effort in; if you’re cavalier with your bets then your understanding of personal finance won’t improve. However, if you’re able to restrain yourself and judge which bets are good and which are bad, then your money management will improve in your day-to-day life. Money management is a skill many of us don’t have but which all of us need.
You could get fitter
The act of playing poker itself won’t make you physically fitter; it’s a sedentary activity, and although it will keep your mind strong, it won’t keep the pounds off or burn any calories. However, the ancillary activities around playing poker can have this effect. For example, if you’re travelling to a gaming room or a friend’s house and it’s within walking distance, that’s an excuse for some exercise. In addition, many of the other techniques and skills you learn from poker can increase your dedication to an exercise regime.
It’ll improve your self-discipline
Less than twenty-five percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions after the first thirty days of a new year. If you play poker, you may find yourself better able to keep them. Playing poker requires a great deal of self-discipline; you need to know yourself and understand the difference between good decisions and poor ones. The ways in which this skill translates to real life should be fairly obvious; spotting good and bad decisions can have seriously beneficial effects on everything from fitness to finance.