The game of poker requires a lot of mental energy. It is very common to see players tired after a long session at the table. This is because poker involves a lot of critical thinking, analysis and high-level brain activity. This is good for your brain, because it helps you build and strengthen neural pathways. This means that you will have a better cognitive functioning in the future. It is also a great way to develop your social skills.
In addition to learning the rules of the game and understanding hand rankings you need to pay close attention to your opponents. Observing the way they play, how quickly they make decisions and what sizing they are using is a big part of poker strategy. For instance, playing tight from early positions and widening up as you get closer to the button will allow you to steal more pots because your opponents will be making decisions slower than you.
Another important skill of poker is the ability to calculate probabilities on the fly. This will help you determine whether or not to call, raise, or fold. The more you practice this, the better you will become at it. Practicing at home and watching experienced players is a great way to develop these quick instincts. As you learn, your brain will develop new neural pathways and this will result in the growth of myelin, which protects them. This will allow your brain to function faster and more efficiently in the future.