Sunday, October 21, 2012

Can Poker Keep You Young?

A recent article in Card Player magazine by Dr. Alan Schoonmaker asks, and then answers (mostly) this very question.  Titled, “Stay Young, Play Poker,” the good doctor suggests that besides eating right and  getting physical exercise (something we all need), older folk also need to keep the ol’ gray cells active, and what better way than playing poker?  In fact, Dr. Al points to research showing that mental activity does in fact keep brains (and their owners) healthy, and certainly poker is a cerebral activity of the highest order.  Since I’m now in the “can take the AARP discount, thank you” category myself, I find this news of great comfort.

Except…he also says that one should not play poker “on auto pilot.”  Now, I’d argue that no one, young or old, should do this (except for those multi-tablers who feel they must grind it out at 24 seats at a time, playing by rote to make a meager existence).  But what does this mean, exactly?

I confess I didn’t get a clear idea from the article, so I wrote to Dr. Schoonmaker for clarification.  Once I hear back, I will update this blog.

For now, I consider the info good news, and I have taken the advice to heart, somewhat.  I have long considered getting into mixed games, including Stud, Omaha, and the various HORSE/HOSE options, if for nothing else than to break the tedium of no limit Hold ‘em.  Not that I’ve mastered NLHE of course, but to continue my education.  But I do worry that by trying to learn multiple games it might affect my Hold ‘em performance.  So, I think I might have another way to ”mix it up.”

Since I’m in the USA, I can’t play for real money.  It doesn’t matter if I win or lose play money; it won’t break me or cause my wife to divorce me if I lose all $2.7M of it.  But I can test new “theories” and “playing styles” in these free games to see how well they work.  Yes, I know I’m playing other freebies, and it’s “not the same” as playing for keep, but…in this testing mode I can try new things, stimulate my brain, and, hopefully, learn something.

That’s the plan.  I will keep you posted as to what I learn and how I do.  For now, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time (tourist season) when I couldn’t play poker for weeks on end.  That’s one reason blogging has been light - playing too much poker!

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