The pandemic has had some unexpected effects on many of us. Even if you haven’t directly contracted the virus, many people have reportedly had brain fog since the pandemic started, which has impacted their ability to focus and retain information. No one is sure how long these symptoms will last, but daily mental stimulation is one of the best ways to keep them at bay and keep your mind sharp.
Playing games has long been known to help with mental focus and improve memory as well as sharpening those quick decision-making skills, but you don’t need an expensive console or a powerful gaming PC to play games that can keep your brain healthy. Even a simple pack of cards can be enough to get all the benefits of playing games without breaking the bank.
Looking for the best card games to keep your mind sharp? Whether you’ve got a group of friends to deal in, or have a few minutes on your own, here are a few of our top suggestions.
Poker has been part of our popular culture since the 1800s and it remains a popular game today. However, despite how familiar the game is for many people, there is a lot of mental exercise to be had with a hand or two of poker. There’s so much to learn in the game, from poker hand ranking charts to calculating pot odds. Once you’ve grasped the basics, you’re kept sharp by reading people, spotting their tells, and hiding your own. Though luck is involved in the game, there is a lot of strategy in it as well. Everything can change in a single hand, so keeping mindful of what is happening is key to success.
Like poker, this is a classic game that many people already know the rules to, but that doesn’t make it an easy game to master. It demands memory, strategy, and focus to keep track of not only your own cards but the cards that other players have played. Best of all, there is also a social aspect to the game, as it is played in teams of two, so you have to be able to work with another person at the same time. This additional aspect of teamwork can do wonders for helping your strategic thinking and memory skills, and never underestimate how important a simple conversation is to keeping you mentally alert.
Before games like Wordle became the go-to for digital brain stimulation, there was Solitaire on your Windows computer. Every copy of the operating system had this game installed and for good reason. Being able to play a simple card game on your own is a great way to flex those mental muscles, even for a few minutes a day. Of course, there is also the real version, which can be played with a deck of cards and any free space you might have. It is simple, straightforward, and great for memory, pattern recognition, and simple focus.
Few games require as much mental arithmetic as blackjack. This classic casino game requires calculations to figure out the odds of the card you need coming up or you’ll go bust. But you’re not just keeping track of your own cards; you’ve got the dealer to worry about as well, worrying if your 18 is enough to hold off the dealer when they are sat at 12 and about to draw. The rules themselves are simple enough to pick up in a single session but you’ll need to come back over and over again to truly master them, which makes it such a valuable game to play when trying to stay mentally sharp and active. No two hands are the same in blackjack.
Not only are card games a fun way to pass the time, but they can also help you train your brain. Improved memory, alertness, focus, and pattern recognition are a few of the best benefits you can get from playing card games.