New to Live Poker? Here’s Why You Should Get Your Face On

Since its invention poker has been played in many various forms, but one commonality is bluffing, hence the origin of the “poker face” to hide the fact that you’re deceiving your opponents.

Online players new to the World Series of Poker and any live poker game may be technical experts at the game, but may also have no practice at hiding their emotions.

It’s perfectly natural to curse up a storm in your office in front of your laptop when you get sucked out on by a 2-outer, but you’re usually just doing yourself a disservice to wear your heart on your sleeve live.

Let’s take a look at the basics of the poker face, why it’s important, and how to wear one yourself.

First things first: what is a poker face?

The official definition of a poker face is an “expressionless face” and having a poker face is paramount in every poker game. Some beginners, especially those who have found modest success online, underestimate the importance of having a poker face during a game.

It doesn’t matter even if you have the world’s best strategies and poker skills in your pocket – they don’t amount to a single penny if you can’t have an utterly expressionless face during the game.

Keeping an expressionless face is an acquired skill

Many games have simply been lost or won based on the skill of keeping an expressionless face. It is not a skill you can master in a day or two. It takes years of playing poker to being a master at maintaining a poker face.

Players are supposed to maintain a poker face from when they are first dealt the hole cards until the very end. Since the game is all about betting and everybody is betting that he or she has the best hand of cards maintaining a poker face is paramount to win the game.

How can you develop a strong poker face?

Maintaining a poker face is not an easy task, especially if you’re playing in a tournament that lasts an extended period of time.

The mind, eyes, and voice are key

The first thing you should do is mentally distance yourself from all your life problems and concentrate on the game.

The next thing to maintain a good poker face is to control your eye movements. If you have a good hand then your pupils might dilate and meticulous players could pick up on that. Many players prefer to wear sunglasses to lessen the risk of being given away by the opponents at the table.

Your voice while betting, can also give away the situation of your hand of cards. You should always keep your voice neutral, clear, concise and constant with every bet that you place.

If you’re thinking that you can fool your opponents into thinking that you have a good hand by faking excitement when betting you’re mistaken. Professional players can easily filter your attempted reverse tell.

Getting into poker mode

There’s another key ingredient to forming a poker face that skipped too often. When you sit down you need to transition into poker mode.

Deep breathing

One of the quick ways to do that is something that athletes use in particular: do some deep breathing. This sounds strange, but most people don’t actually know how to breathe correctly. When I’m saying deep breathing I mean take a deep breath in through your nose and count in your head slow for at least a count of four.

Really make sure your belly kind of pooches out, that’s how you know you’re really getting a deep breath. Then hold and blow out through your mouth for a count of at least six.

When we get the stress relief it’s actually on the exhalation not on the inhalation. That’s why you want to make that exhalation a full exhalation, and make it just a little bit longer than what your inhalation was. If you do that three or four times you will often just naturally calm down

Releasing stress before playing

When we’re stressed certain parts of our brain are activated. The amygdala is triggered, which is the part of your brain that’s like your panic button. So we have the sympathetic nervous system going, the adrenaline is rushing, and the heart is pumping. By doing the deep breathing you calm all that down and you’re able to better focus.

“Poker arms” are a forgotten part of the poker face

According to a research conducted by Tufts University having poker arms is just as important as having a poker face. Your hand movements and gestures will also give you away easily if they are not controlled. The general hand strength of amateur players was easily guessed by professionals in the study based on uncontrolled arm and hand movements.

Therefore you should not just focus on having a good poker face but rather on having a poker body to best prepare yourself for a live game.