6 psychological gains playing poker can give you

Enhance your focus, decision-making, and social skills while having fun with poker. Learn about the psychological benefits of playing poker, from boosting confidence to reducing stress.

Poker has been a pastime for people for years. It’s a great way to socialize and have fun, but did you know it can also offer psychological benefits? Here are 6 psychological gains playing poker can give you:

1. Boosts Confidence

Many people think of poker as a game of chance, but the truth is that success at poker requires a great deal of skill and strategy. Moreover, reading other players and maintaining a poker face are essential life skills that can benefit many situations. For these reasons, playing poker can be an excellent way to boost confidence.

The need to make quick decisions and remain calm under pressure can help develop poise while reading others can hone social intuition. In addition, the feeling of accomplishment from winning can help increase self-esteem. So next time you feel down, consider heading to the nearest casino or logging on to an online poker site.

2. Helps With Decision-Making

Many people view poker as a game of chance, but there is more to it than that: it is a skill game requiring players to make strategic decisions to succeed. This process of making decisions and taking risks is known as gambling, a cornerstone of many games. However, the amount of information players has to work with sets poker apart from other games.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge at Wharton School, psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova talks about poker as means to explore human decision-making in her book suggestively titled “The Biggest Bluff.” She had as a starting point another masterpiece on gaming and particularly poker, citing the author of another book, The Theory of Games:

“This game is the perfect model for human decision-making”

John von Neumann

When comparing it to chess, she ended up saying:

“Poker is a game of incomplete information. There are things I know that you don’t know. There are things you know that I don’t know.”

Maria Konnikova

Poker players must read their opponents and understand the odds of each hand to make the best possible decisions. Making quick and accurate decisions is an essential life skill you can learn by playing poker. By reading people and calculating risk, poker players develop the ability to make sound decisions in other situations.

3. Improves focus

Poker is a game of skill that requires intense focus and concentration. To succeed, players must be able to read their opponents, think strategically, and make quick decisions. While poker is often associated with gambling, it can also be a valuable tool for developing psychological skills.

Maintaining focus helps in many aspects of life, and poker provides an excellent opportunity to practice this skill. In addition, reading people and making accurate judgments about their motives can be beneficial in both personal and professional situations. Ultimately, poker is more than just a game–it’s a way to sharpen your focus.

Studies on the relationship between poker and focus

  • A study published in the Open Journal of Medical Psychology found that playing online games can improve attention, focus, and cognitive control.
  • Another study published by Joseph St. Germain for the Florida State University named “Decision-Making and Reported Thought Processes Among Expert, Intermediate, and Novice Poker Players” found that poker players had better visual attention skills than non-poker players.

Examples of focus-enhancing strategies used by successful poker players

  1. Setting aside distractions before each hand
  2. Breaking the game into smaller, manageable chunks
  3. Staying in the present moment and focusing on the current hand
  4. Taking regular breaks to avoid fatigue and maintain focus

Reading people and making accurate judgments about their motives can benefit both personally and professionally. Poker is more than just a game: it’s a way to sharpen your focus and develop important life skills.

4. Teaches Control

One of the essential things that poker teaches players is control.

Players need to control their emotions and reactions to the game to succeed in poker because poker is very emotional, and players who cannot control their emotions will often make poor decisions that can lead to them losing money. Poker also teaches players how to control their body language. Body language can give other players information about what type of hand you have. If you can control your body language, you can bluff other players and make them think you have a better hand than you do.

Poker teaches players how to control their bets. Betting is one of the most important aspects of poker, and you must control your bets to be successful in the long run. By learning how to control their emotions, body language, and bets, poker players learn to be more successful in the game.

5. Increases Social Interaction

Poker has been played for ages and is popular among players of various skill levels and demographics. While it is often considered a gambling game, poker is a fun way to socialize and interact with other people. Poker games allow people to come together and compete in a friendly way. They also allow players to learn about other people and their cultures. Poker games help people to improve their communication and negotiation skills. As such, playing poker can have numerous psychological benefits.

6. Helps With Stress Relief

Playing poker helps relieve stress in several ways. First, it distracts from everyday worries and concerns that can cause stress. Focusing on the game makes you less likely to dwell on negative thoughts.

According to a study by Laakasuo, M., Palomäki, J., & Salmela, M. in 2015, “Emotional and Social Factors influence Poker Decision-Making Accuracy” in the Journal of gambling studies31(3), 933–947, experienced players have better emotional control.

Secondly, poker is a great way to socialize and connect. Playing with friends or family can help reduce stress by providing an opportunity to relax and enjoy their company. Finally, poker is a challenging game that requires strategic thinking and quick reflexes. This aspect can help to break your mind from the endless cycle of stressful thoughts. Playing poker can improve your mood, focus, and cognitive skills while also enjoying the company of others. Next time you’re stressed, grab a deck of cards and play some poker. It just might be the perfect way to unwind.


Of course, there are also drawbacks. As with everything else in life, abusing certain habits harm people. The following numbers were extracted from the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, named “Psychopathology of Online Poker Players: Review of Literature”:

Gender88% of online poker players are men
Impact on lifestyle62% of online poker players consider their gambling activities to have an impact on their lifestyle, leading to neglect of daily tasks
Criticism from relatives19% of online poker players report that relatives have already criticized their gambling habit
Prevalence of problematic gambling22% of the poker player population has a problematic use, including 14% with an excessive use
Comparison with traditional gamblingVirtual gamblers have 3-4 times more risk of being compulsive gamblers than those who play around a table
Player styleProblematic gamblers can be losing or winning players, irrational or rational in their game perception, and their playing styles can be uncontrolled or controlled
Characteristics of online poker players

Above all, poker is a fun and exciting game that people of all skill levels and backgrounds can enjoy. It is also a great way to improve focus, control emotions, and socialize with others. So if you are looking for a challenging and enjoyable way to relieve stress, consider playing poker. A great place to start playing poker is by playing free poker games. Playing poker online lets you choose which game you’d like to try, such as classic poker, Texas Holdem, Omaha, or others.