Poker chips and cards

Playing Poker in College

Video games and board games may have their time in the spotlight, but card games are eternal –– and for good reason. Card games keep your mind sharp. A recent study on brain activity found that playing card games or solving puzzles can even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia by up to five years. Now, as college students, you may not feel the need to try cognitively stimulating hobbies just yet. However, it’s worth thinking about how these kinds of games can sharpen memory, improve analytical skills, and provide opportunities to socialize.

Poker chips and cards

Poker is an incredibly popular card game partly for these very reasons, which also explain why it has endured as a pastime on college campuses around the world.

Collegiate Poker Culture

Many prestigious universities and colleges actually have thriving poker scenes. To give one example, the analytical minds at Harvard University recently started an undergraduate poker club with the goal to become an inclusive space for students of all skill levels to learn the game’s fundamentals. Historically, Harvard’s poker sphere has existed in the underground for men since the ’60s, but it has now grown and attracted great interest from diverse students.

Students were drawn in by the complexities of the game, and most club members enjoy learning how to stay calm, deal with uncertainty, and manage risk — with the bonuses of meeting new people and having some fun. The club offers workshops, runs games, and even invites poker champions like Maria Ho to speak about experiences at the professional level.

Harvard is not the only campus with a thriving poker culture; UC Berkeley and Yale likewise produce a number of gifted poker players. The idea of establishing a poker society is quite popular across different schools, although they execute concepts differently (in part to adhere to laws that vary from state to state). Commonly, these clubs go over poker theory, try out variations of the game, and host tournaments with prizes that even casual players can enjoy.

Tips on Playing Poker as a Student

Students may be a little skeptical or wary of joining in with the poker fun, but the right approach can help you stay grounded and keep you having fun. Here are three tips to follow, if you want to play poker regularly in college:

Work on your time management skills:

Research shows that mastering time management skills can enhance our overall wellbeing and life satisfaction. Between classes, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and social activities, college teaches you plenty about time management already. But you’ll benefit even more if you plan to take on a hobby like poker, which requires a lot of practice and study. Play only in your spare time, and finish all your work beforehand. For beginners, it helps to start short, then gradually join longer sessions. This will help you to fit the game into your busy schedule, which in turn will help you to get the most out of it.

Practice self-reflection:

Poker is not only a test of mental agility, but also of your emotional and psychological maturity. To this end it’s best to follow a popular next-level poker tip to manage your mindset, which is to let go of the belief that bad hands are the only reason you’re losing. This way of thinking essentially holds you back from improvement. After every game, skilled players will instead take some time to think about what they did correctly, and what they could have done better. Practicing this self-reflective mindset can help you grow and overcome challenges in other aspects of life as well.

Manage your bankroll well:

Bankroll management is something that poker instructors try to drill into players all the time. If you want to play like a professional (and you are in fact playing for real money), set aside a reasonable amount of money you can afford to lose. Keeping your poker money separate from the rest of your cash lets you stay on top of your other responsibilities, without letting the game become a problem. Budgeting is a key financial consideration for college students already, so factoring in a poker hobby should be easy enough! By spending time evaluating your expenses, you can better understand and optimize the way you spend your money.

In the end, remember too to play the game responsibly. So long as you keep that important tip in mind, you may just find a new hobby that you enjoy, and that helps you with everything from socializing to keeping your mind sharp.