Recent research at a Canadian University indicates that poker is good for releasing stress. This result has come as a surprise to many who view poker as a high stress and high risk game.
The cortisol levels of online poker players was monitored as they played online poker and it was found that their cortisol, otherwise known as “the stress hormone”, levels dropped significantly as they played. The levels continued to drop, by up to 17%, as the players progressed and became increasingly engaged in the game.
The reasoning behind this, Canadian scientists believe, is that the intense focus given during the poker game allows the players to forget or move their focus away from their daily responsibilities and worries. The intense focus is required because poker is such a complex game and players naturally get drawn in when playing. By taking a break from constantly thinking and worrying about daily responsibilities, the brain starts releasing less and less cortisol.
Prior to this research, it was also found by scientists that online gambling also improves the cognitive functioning of the brain. This applies to poker especially because of the never ending variables in the game- players are constantly thinking and learning and adapting and this provides excellent exercise for the brain.
So by playing poker, players are reducing stress as well as exercising the brain. These findings might have an influence in the US where whether to legalize online poker is an ongoing debate.