When playing poker, it is very important to gain all the information possible. However, when it comes to your game, the goal is to limit the amount of information you give to your opponents. One of the ways you can do this is by maintaining a poker face.
What is a poker face?
A poker face is simply an expression or look that you have that is consistent regardless of the situation at hand. Many players will blush, make facial expressions, hold their breath, or give off some other poker tell, when they are bluffing or holding a big hand.
Tips for Keeping a Poker Face
By following a few of the tips below, you will be able to create the perfect poker face that will not only fool your opponents, but it may fool yourself as well.
Practice your poker face in front of the mirror
This is the one suggestion I would rely on the least. The reason is that you are not faced with some of the same scenarios in front of a mirror as you are at the poker table. Being in front of a mirror is good to see what a “natural” expression on your face would be with no emotion whatsoever.
Practice a poker face in front of others
The ideal time of course would be while you are playing poker. Ask them if they have any idea what you may be holding whether it is a strong or weak hand or if you are flat out bluffing.
Wear sunglasses, a hat, or hooded sweatshirt
By covering more of your face, you will limit what your opponents can see. Not to mention that you may feel more comfortable or confident knowing that your eyes are concealed.
Many players tend to be wide eyed when they get a big hand or even get a slight smirk on their face. So glasses and a sweatshirt can definitely help if you are having problems controlling these emotions.
Control your breathing
When you get stressed you naturally start breathing shallow. Conversely, when you breath shallow you become stressed more easily. Believe it or not, deep breathing will actually calm you down.
And being calm will not only allow you to make rational decisions, but allow you to control your body and facial expressions. If needed, breathe and count to ten before it is your turn to act.
The more experienced you become, the better your poker face should get. In the end, experience is what will help you keep a poker face.
You will have so many big hands in your poker career that it will seem like no big deal when you do. The more live games you play, the faster you will gain this needed experience.
When push comes to shove, you can simply just cover your face when it is your turn to act. A couple good examples of this would be Phil Hellmuth or Chris Ferguson, both of which you cannot tell what they may be holding.
They are masters of having a great poker face and it may be worthwhile to try their approach. If you find that you still cannot maintain a straight face when it is most important, then try to recreate the face you are trying to hide every time you have to act.
Might as well roll with the punches right? Your opponents will never be able to tell the difference, and that is the ultimate goal in keeping a poker face.