Poker is a game of chance and psychology, but it also involves a lot of quick decision making. This constant processing of information is a literal workout for the brain, strengthening neural pathways and developing myelin (a protective layer that helps the brain process info). Regular poker play can improve your critical thinking skills, which are useful in many situations both in and out of the game.
Observing other players and their body language is essential to playing good poker. A skilled player can pick up on “tells” that signal when someone is stressed, bluffing or happy with their hand. This ability to read other people is a very valuable skill that can be applied to other areas of life such as business or social interactions.
Poker also teaches you how to control your emotions, especially anger and frustration. There are times when letting off steam is warranted, but in general uncontrolled emotions can lead to negative outcomes, whether at the table or in other aspects of life. Poker is a great way to learn how to keep your emotions in check and use them as a tool to help you win the pot.