Did you know that card games are good for you? That’s right, if you’re adept with a deck of cards and know how to play anything from blackjack to poker, you could be doing yourself a massive favour.
For many people, playing cards is a form of entertainment which, in turn, makes them happy and relaxed. Unsurprisingly, this has a number of health benefits. As well as improving our mood and reducing stress, getting involved in activities we enjoy makes us feel better about ourselves.
When all of this is true, depression is less likely, which means fewer psychological and physiological issues. To put it another way, if we’re having fun, we’re going to be happier and, therefore, healthier. However, when you look beyond the entertainment aspect of playing cards, there are some benefits you may not have considered. With this in mind, we’ve picked out some of the positives that can come from 52 cards, a few rules and some friendly competition.
Barring a game like solitaire, cards are a social activity. If you’ve ever been to a live casino and played blackjack, the chances are you’ll have had a conversation with someone you didn’t know. Whether it was the dealer or your tablemates, the game offers an intimate dynamic that often prompts some form of interaction.
Indeed, because you’re all playing against the dealer using the same decks of cards and rules, there’s a team mentality. If someone wins, it’s almost like a victory for everyone. This can lead to a discussion which then creates a social atmosphere.
Beyond blackjack, the same is true for poker. In fact, social interaction is more integral to a game of poker than any other card game. Because you’re trying to read your opponents, get into their mind and work out the best way to win, you need to communicate. Although you may get the odd silent type that doesn’t want to speak, it’s usually the case the poker games are extremely friendly.
Being social is important in life because isolation often leads to depression. According to a 2009 article in Psychology Today humans aren’t designed to be isolated. Because we evolved from small hunter-gatherer communities where everyone had to work together to survive, we have an innate need to lean on people.
If we don’t have a social network, it can often lead to depression. Although card games aren’t the only answer, they do offer a social environment that can help stave off any negative emotions.
As we age, our brains start to become less active and efficient. Stimulating them with logic problems and tasks can help to slow down this natural decline in brain activity. As age awareness charity SAGA Today has noted, card games are an effective way to tax the mind and keep it ticking over into old age.
One of the main reasons that card games are great for an aging brain is that they force you to think about numbers. Whether it’s a simple case of adding up some bets or presenting a more complex problem involving percentages, almost all card games have a mathematical underbelly.
Again, let’s look at blackjack as an example. In this game, the aim is to hit the magical total of 21. At the start of a round, you’ll receive two cards, as does the dealer. At this point, you have to add up the value of your two cards to get your starting total.
Only once you’ve done this can you decide whether it’s wise to hit (take another card) or stand (stick with what you’ve got). Yes, if you’re playing live or online there will be someone/something that will add up the numbers for you. However, most players like to do it themselves because it makes them feel more involved in the game.
Essentially, when you play any sort of card game in a casino, mental arithmetic is important. Even if you’re not as quick as a calculator, it’s always worth trying to sift through the stats if you can. Doing this on a regular basis will not only improve your maths skills, but also keep your neurons firing. If you can keep the electrical impulses going, cognitive decline can be slowed down and that will make you shaper in later life.
The final benefit of playing card games is that they can earn you some money if you know what you’re doing. Now, it’s important to point out that we’re not advocating betting on card games as a source of income. However, if you enter a casino (live or online) and play for real money, you do have the opportunity to earn a return on your investment. However, for this to be true, you need to learn the nuances of any card game you play. What’s more, you need to realise that not all card games are created equal.
For example, despite Casino Hold’em being great fun, there isn’t as much scope to implement a winning strategy as there is in blackjack. However, even though you can use math to guide your decisions in blackjack, the house still has an edge. In contrast, when you play poker, the house doesn’t have an edge. So, in this instance, you can actually develop a set of skills that can help you beat the players around you. This, in turn, would result in you making money.
Obviously, to learn the skills necessary to make money from cards takes time and, in reality, a slice of luck. But, it’s fair to say that cards can be lucrative if you know what you’re doing. When you combine this with the physical and mental benefits you can get from playing card games, it’s easy to see why blackjack, poker and the like are so popular.