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Training your Brain the Fun Way: 5 Card Games

This week we are taking a brief hiatus from the Five for Life (but stay tuned for a post on the 5th principle in the next few days!) for a collaborative post that resonates with me, as the granddaughter of an avid card player. My late grandmother, who lived to a very respectable 93, was a serious card shark. She played it coy, acting like she was new to the game before systematically destroying her children and grandchildren alike. She was equal opportunity, dominating in games from 3-to-13 to Go Fish to Rummy, a shrewd opponent right up until she passed in 2017. And shrewd she was - one of the sharpest of women I knew even as her body failed her - and I have often wondered if there was a connection between her mental clarity and her love of card games. Turns out, there is legitimate science behind this - read on for some card games that are both fun and functional training for your brain!

5 Fun Card Games to Help You Train Your Brain

The brain is a vital part of your body. It controls your thoughts and regulates your movement. Without a well-functioning brain, life would be difficult. This is why ensuring optimal health is a must. We find that exercises for the brain, like reading and learning, achieve this. These activities utilize your thinking and memory skills—and even require the brain to use oxygen. This results in increased blood flow for better brain health. Aside from these, playing card games is another way to help your brain. These prompt your decision-making and creative-thinking skills to improve health. Below are a few card games to train your brain:


The goal of solitaire is to arrange a deck of cards by their suit in ascending order. The twist here is that the cards are shuffled and face-down. This way, solitaire becomes a puzzle that urges your brain to make decisions that will alter the game’s outcome. It also improves your memory since you must refrain from repeating mistakes if you want to succeed. What’s great is that you can play solitaire alone or with friends to raise competitiveness and outperform one another.


Poker is great for sharpening your mental skills. A study on card games reveals that poker improves memory, thinking performance, and social communication skills. This is because the game relies on your ability to make quick decisions on your next move to get the best hand. One major tip to win at poker is to strategize, which is where your brain gets the best exercise. Developing your strategy through experience and observation improves your play every round. Yet to strategize more effectively, you must take note of your past errors and scrutinize your opponents’ play. These sharpen your cognitive abilities, effectively training your brain.


Rummy is a matching-card game. To win, you must build sets (three or four of a kind of the same rank) or runs (three or more sequential cards belonging to the same suit) and be the first to finish or get the most points. As such, rummy enhances your concentration and memory abilities. You need to pay attention to the cards being picked up and discarded and remember these for your advantage. Through this, you’ll know when to pounce and put yourself in a better position to win. From the start of rummy until its end, you’ll have to rely on your memory skills—making it the perfect card game for brain training.


Bridge is a trick-taking card game played by two pairs. The objective is to score higher than the opposing pair by winning tricks equal to or greater than the number bid. It’s a game of teamwork, which is why it’s considered a cerebral sport. It needs logic, quick thinking, and partnership skills to succeed. Research from the University of California, Berkeley informs us that playing bridge stimulates the part of the brain responsible for the immune system. This is due to players using their memory and sequencing abilities in-game, prompting better brain health and wellness.


Playing blackjack involves basic computation skills. You’re playing against the dealer by trying to draw cards with a value of 21 without going over. Given this, you need to learn how to count cards. This enables you to see whether you or the dealer has an advantage on the next hand. Learning to count stimulates your brain, strengthening your memory and improving quick decision-making skills. Playing card games is a great way to train your brain. Keep these games in mind when you need a brain-boosting activity!

Post in collaboration with Lacy Erickson

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