The Best Games for Brain-Boxes

Do your friends often tell you you’re a bit of a nerd, do you consider yourself pretty smart? Maybe that big old brain is wasted on pedestrian games. Thankfully games of strategy are here to separate the wheat from the chaff, or maybe the dummies from the geeks… Whether you think you might be just a little brainier than average, or you’re a fully paid-up member of MENSA, these games should provide you with at least a little bit of a challenge.

Texas Hold’em Poker

Poker is a real hit with those who are mathematically minded, as getting to the top of the game requires a good understanding of probability. In Texas Hold’em, you’ll be aiming for a strong 5-card hand if you want to win, which will be made up of the cards in your hand as well as the hole cards on the table.

The first part of your calculation will be dependent on your bet and is relatively straightforward. If the pot is already $4 and you decide you’re going to bet $2 you’ve made a bet for half the pot. That means the odds that you’re accepting are 6:2, or simplified 3:1. Before placing that bet you need to consider whether you fancy your hand to win that much.

It might be helpful to think about it like placing a bet on a horse race, if your hand was priced at 3:1 to win, would you back the horse? Some of us can be fairly accurate in judging whether pot odds are worth it, but if you want to be as close to accurate as possible then you need to work out the actual odds of winning that hand.

This is where it all gets a little trickier, but the math brains should love it. In order to make this calculation, you’ll need to work out how many cards there are left in the pack (or in your opponent’s hand) that could win you the hand. This number is how many ‘outs’ you have.

You need to put the outs, up against the remainder of the unseen cards, so for example if you have 10 outs and 40 unseen cards, you’ll have 30 cards that would lose you the round. This gives you odds of 30:10, or 3:1, so you’ve got a 3:1 chance of winning that round. If you still like the odds, it’s time to make your bet.

Working out odds like this is the best way to play a successful game of poker, but it takes practice to get quick at it. If you want to make your buy-in money stretch a little further then looking out for the latest casino bonuses is a good way to ensure that it does. It also involves a lot less brain work.


If you enjoy your video games with a bit more of a visual element than poker then Portal could be a good choice for you. The concept for the game was dreamt up by students from DigiPen and the ideas people at Valve loved it so much that they gave them a stack of cash and as much help as they needed to make it happen. The result is a quirky and clever game, that’s now onto it’s second installment.

The only tool that you’re given to play the game with is a portal gun, that shoots, you guessed it, portals. You’ll need to find your way through a maze of levels with just your portal gun in hand. You can create an entry portal with one button and an exit portal with the other.

You might use these to swiftly dodge an enemy, you might use them to disappear obstacles, you might just get great joy from placing them both in the corner of a room and watching yourself do loop the loops.

The game doesn’t tell you what to do, so even the daftest ideas can happen. It shouldn’t take too long to get through the levels, but your brain will feel like it’s spent a couple of hours solving riddles by the end of it.

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