Poker Face 101

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Staff member
May 3, 2008
What do you think of you when you hear the term “poker face?” For those of us who gamble, the term brings more to mind than Lady Gaga dressed in her typically bizarre wardrobe.
No, those of us who gamble think of the notorious poker face - the face needed to successfully bluff through a victorious game of poker.

If you are new to gambling (or just a bad liar in general), then you may not be sure how to transform your face into the stoic face of a professional poker player. The good news is that anyone
can learn how to have a great poker face; it is not an inherited trait and can be learned with a few tips and lots of practice. Take a look at the information below to learn how you can perfect
your poker face and increase your odds of winning the next time you hit the poker table at the casino or an online poker room.


The first step to perfecting your poker face is a relatively simple concept but is far harder to achieve than it sounds: you need to learn how to relax. No matter what. Under all circumstances.
Besides, stress is bad for you anyway. You do not want a stomach ulcer, high blood pressure, or any of the other bad side effects of living in a constantly stressed out state do you? Good.
Time to start relaxing, especially during your next match of poker. If you look “tight,” the other players at your table will notice and call you out on your bluff. Not sure how to relax?

Try some of these tips:
  • Breathe evenly and deeply. Try breathing from your diaphragm instead of taking shallow “chest” breaths.
  • Use relaxation exercises at home to learn how your body feels when it is in a relaxed state.
    There are many tapes and resources available to help you learn how to relax.
  • Practice maintaining a relaxed posture throughout the day. When your shoulders are raised and tight,
    you tend to slouch forward and develop bad posture habits. Learn how to stand and sit in a consistently confident,
    relaxed manner so that it is second nature to you during a poker game.

Smile Rarely

Detectives make a living by discerning whether or not a person is lying or not. Since lie detectors are not always available, a good detective knows how to read a person’s facial expressions
and determine whether or not he or she is lying or not. One of the primary giveaways in a person’s facial features is his or her smile; detectives can determine whether a smile is “genuine”
or not by looking to see which muscles activate the smile. During a game of poker, everyone at the table is a “detective” of sorts. Every player is on the look out for someone who appears to
be lying about his or her hand. In order to prevent people from seeing past your facade, try not to smile too much. A non-genuine smile is easily picked out. A real smile is generated by the
muscles around the eye instead of the muscles activated during a fake smile - the muscles located around the mouth

Body Language: Be Aware

Every human being has a nervous habit. You may not realize it, but you do something when you get nervous. Many people bite their nails, kick their foot, or develop subtle ticks when they feel nervous.
You can even tell if a person is nervous or not by watching how quickly they blink and monitoring how often they yawn. Body language says a lot about a person, and it can quickly unmask whatever it
is that you are trying to hide during a poker game. If you are not sure what you do when you are nervous, try asking a friend or family member if they have noticed any nervous habits. They probably have!

Talk Evenly

When you talk, your voice goes up or down by slight intervals depending on your emotional state. If you are feeling nervous, your voice might get a little higher and may even sound “wobbly” to those
sitting next to you. When you decide to contribute something to the poker conversation, make sure that you talk in a consistently even tone. Lower your voice and speak slowly and clearly. If you are
not comfortable with “masking” your voice during stressful gameplay situations, then you may want to avoid talking as much as possible. A well known saying states that a person never regrets what
he or she does not say in the first place. Keep this concept in mind the next time you hit the poker tables.

The next time you need to put on your poker face during a particularly heated match, keep these tips in mind. By staying relaxed, smiling rarely, remaining aware of your body language,
and keeping your voice even, you will be able to stay in control of how others perceive you - resulting in a potential win during your next poker match.

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