Brain training software has never been more popular. Every day you see people using the programs on smart phones, tablets, laptops and video game consoles.
In some ways they aren’t that far removed from multi-tabling online poker as both require critical thinking and dexterity with a mouse.
Whether brain-training software actually increases your intelligence is an entirely different matter as numerous studies have shown the programs actually do very little.
On the bright side, the programs do allow users to brush up on their math fundamentals and quick reflexes.
The inherent problem for poker players when it comes to mainstream brain-training software is that it teaches you to memorize certain numbers but they aren’t poker specific enough.
Instead you’d probably be better served by something like PokerCruncher or DonkeyTest, which would at least build better muscle memory.
All that said, brain training software likely won’t hurt your game so here’s a look at three of the most popular options:
Platform: PC, OSX, iOS
Cost: Basic Membership is free. Full membership $14.95 a month or a year of $79.95.
Summary: The most popular brain-training app, Lumosity has millions of users and a great simple UI. Poker players should be familiar with the style of play as Lumosity runs at a rapid pace sometimes requiring a fair amount of dexterity.
Lumosity is customizable so you can focus on memory, critical thinking or thinking outside the box. It adapts a program specially designed for each user. The learning curve is rather good and it avoids making you feel dumb from the very beginning.
Lumosity also adds new games every month to keep things fresh. Thankfully the game is free to start so you can head over right away and try it out.
As we mentioned before it’s debatable if programs like Lumosity actually increase your intelligence but there’s a good chance they will increase your ability to make a decision faster and click something, which bodes well for poker.
Highlight poker training game: Raindrops. Solve equations before they fill a lake. It’s like calculating pot odds AFTER someone has called the clock on you.
Brain Age: Concentration
Summary: Brain Age on the Nintendo DS was one of the original brain-training apps and in some ways it feels quite antiquated to new programs like Lumosity.
Brain Age was designed by Dr. Kawashima, who works in neuroscience, and the entire goal is to get a score that lists your brain age as young.
The games usually include a series of rapid-fire challenges as well as math-based puzzles like Sudoku.
The latest Brain Age, called Brain Age: Concentration, focuses mainly on memory but also offers mindless fare like Blob Bust and Germ Buster to help relax the brain.
Quite honestly Brain Age might help you with remembering things but it’s not going to be a huge help when it comes to building some muscle memory on your laptop or tablet for playing online poker. The Nintento 3DS is just too different and that’s not very appealing.
In addition the original Brain Age came out way back in 2005 so the entire premise is starting to feel dated compared to new efforts such as Lumosity.
Highlight poker training game: The Devilish Training mode is designed to improve your working memory and it may help you remember just what another player had last hand.
Platform: PC, OSX, iOS
Cost: Free introductory apps. Additional ones are $3.50 each.
Summary: Cognifit is another piece of brain-training software developed by a healthcare company. Similar to Lumosity, Cognifit begins with an assessment in the beginning that will create a personalized training plan. Cognifit will ask you how you’re feeling before every session and further customize your brain workout based on your response.
The games in Cognifit will be very familiar for anyone who has dabbled with Brain Age or Lumosity and before long you’ll be rapidly answering math problems or madly clicking the mouse trying to find hidden objects on a screen.
Cognifit’s programs are used in retirement and assisted living facilities as a way of increasing cognitive abilities but they’ve also gotten doctors to say that normal, healthy adults can benefit from daily training as well.
Interestingly Cognifit has also designed Drivefit, which is used by the British School of Driving and Young Drivers of Canada.
Highlight poker training game: Reaction field. This game where you whack moles is a simple exercise in mouse dexterity. Should help you find that Raise button on the 15 tables you’re playing simultaneously on PokerStars.