Natural benefits of poker

Today, whilst skimming through a website relating to the current battle facing American poker players regarding the decriminalization of online poker playing, and re-categorization of poker as a skill game, I came across a link, “positive Aspects of Poker”. I followed the link and was surprised to find a 13 page article entitled ‘Poker is Good for You’. This article listed and detailed such a wide variety of ways in which poker can be considered beneficial. I was so impressed and indeed surprised with the findings that I choose to summarize some of the salient points, in order that more people may be aware of these natural benefits of poker.

One of the central ideas is that Poker is an effective teacher; when you do the right thing in poker you get rewards, when you don’t you get punished. In this way, if you rush into things, if you don’t think things through properly, if you don’t think logically, or pay attention to your fellow players, you will end up loosing in poker. All of these qualities are generally good ones, and the instilling of them makes good people, and so through the needs of the game, and the built in reward and punishment structure of the game, people will end up learning personal and inter-personal skills from it.

Certain things like increased concentration, logical thinking, and math skills, have always been identified as positive side effects of poker player; have you ever considered however, the benefits of these skills in education? In addition to these elements, self discipline and control, long term planning and thinking, money management as well as a good sense of reality and probability, are also all skills that few would consider bad. All of these can be learnt from playing poker, and the seasoned player will internalize them into his very nature.

More surprising than the benefits of poker for education and personal development however, are the sociological effects that it has been claimed poker may cause; not only does poker teach you to adapt to changing situations, but it instills an acceptance of people and leaves no space for prejudice, sexism, or racism. Additionally, in terms of personal development, these researchers claim that poker teaches one how to deal appropriately with loss, and conflict, and to depersonalize both.

The article was written by a Ph.D, and the complete list of benefits he attributes to poker playing far exceed those mentioned here; in fact they number 24 in total, and according to the author, they do not make up a complete list of all the benefits.

The extent to which all of these benefits are truly applicable is questionable; however it does appear to be undeniable that there are certainly many skills that can be gained from poker playing that contribute to personal, educational, social, and behavioral development. The fate of poker’s status in the U.S. is still undecided; one may only hope that these natural benefits of poker will be acknowledged and considered in the debate.

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