Poker had a surge in popularity in the early 2000s. Back then, people like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey had almost a rock star status. It doesn’t have that status anymore, but it’s still a game that gets a lot of love from the people who play it.
You’ll get hours of entertainment for very little cost…sometimes no cost
One of the best things about poker is that it’s accessible to most people. All you need to have in order to play is a pack of cards and a couple of friends, or an internet connection and some spare time. One of the best things about tournaments is their competitive nature. If you love competition against people, it’s an exciting game to play.
Most people can play poker because it’s open to everyone
You can buy into online tournaments for as little as £10 and spend the next couple of hours playing games. For that price, what does it matter if you win? £10 for a few hours of entertainment is worth it in my opinion. You might not think so, but I know I’m not alone in thinking this.
Another good thing about £10 buy-ins is that it opens up the game to many more players, unlike certain other casino games.
Anyone can play – many might play badly, but everyone gets to at least try.
And, if you are one of the bad players, don’t be upset because poker involves a lot of skill, and that means that you can get better with practice.
Even if you’re against spending money on gambling, that’s cool because there are plenty of online tournaments that don’t involve money.
Poker’s the best casino game for those of you who love being sociable
As long as you’re not one of those people who upends the Monopoly board when they lose, a great aspect of poker is how sociable it is. If you’re a sore loser, you’re likely to get a bit agro and people don’t like that.
But if you’re a general jovial chap/chapess, then this game should be right up your street. Millions of people play poker with their friends on a weekend – a few drinks, a few snacks, a few hands, it’s great fun.
And those times when you can’t find your friends, you can always hop online and find people to play with there.
Poker’s a game of skill: it helps make you smarter, and it’s fun
Poker is a gambling game, and that means there’s an element of luck involved. But of all the casino games, it has the most skill involved, and it’s a game that you can learn to get better at. So even if you think you’re rubbish now, you can spend some time learning the game and you’ll notice improvements.
Does poker have the power to make you a smarter person?
One tip to help you improve your poker game is to memorise the different hands and the probabilities of other people holding particular cards depending on which cards the dealer has dealt so far. It takes a lot of time to do this, but not as long as it takes for a London Black Cab driver to learn “The Knowledge“.
When you learn “The Knowledge” it actually shows up in brain scans as a bigger hippocampus – a part of the brain involved in memory. It would be interesting to see how the brains of expert poker players differ from their pre-playing brains and from the brains of people who don’t play poker at all.
You’re learning a new skill, so it inevitably is making you smarter. Think of it as the equivalent of taking your brain out for exercise. Of course, it’s not the only way to exercise your brain, but it’s on a par with crossword puzzles and the like.
Does it help you become a better reader of people?
Body language and perspective-taking are huge factors that improve people’s poker skills, and they are both excellent skills to learn for day-to-day life too.
Being able to read body language improves your ability to gauge what people might be thinking. Perspective-taking is about your ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and see the world from their point of view. Taken together, these skills will help you guess how a person is likely to behave in reaction to specific events.
Poker is a fantastic way to get mastery over both of these skills. Imagine being able to read people like this:
So why do people who try it love poker?
It’s entertaining, you don’t have to spend any money, you learn new skills that you can use beyond poker, and it’s fun.
What’s not to love?
Gordon Dyke has served as our poker expert since 2017. Gordon has been playing poker professionally and recreationally for nearly two decades.