You just landed the nut straight on the turn. The showdown is so close. Your mind is racing as you hold your face rigid, avoiding eye contact and praying that you won’t give away your beautiful hand before everyone calls. Do you have what it takes to maintain the perfect poker face?
If your facial muscles are rigid and your staring down at the felt, you’ve already failed. The golden rule to any poker face is to not react in any way, to any situation, sustaining the exact same demeanor throughout the entire session.
We’ll discuss three simple steps to pulling off the perfect poker face.
This is the most important aspect in the process, and the hardest part for most people to overcome. There are so many situations that can make us nervous in a poker game. When we’re dealt the nuts; when we invest in a draw hand that runs into brick wall; when we attempt to pull off a bluff; when an opponent drops a big raise out of nowhere – these can all cause our heart rate to accelerate.
You must train yourself to stay completely calm and relaxed at all times. Remember, this is just a game Yes, you have money on the line, but you knew coming in that there was a chance you could lose that money. If you’re using proper bankroll management, it’s nothing you can’t afford to lose. Stay calm, keep your emotions in check and always make good decisions. Fate will take care of the rest.
#2 Don’t Alter your Conversive Nature
If you come into a poker session as a chatter-box, cracking jokes or ragging on your opponents, you’ll have to keep that up the whole time. It’s better to either stay quiet or minimally conversive with the table. That way, you can maintain the same level of affability throughout.
If you suddenly go quiet, or start talking too much, your opponents will pick up on this and see it as a change in your demeanor, alluding to a good or bad hand. Suffice to say, don’t let your attitude change or your poker face will fall apart.
#3 Apathy Prevails
Maintain an apathetic perspective at all times. Letting a single emotion escape your steely veil will give other players insight to your thought process. By observing the end of that hand, they can pick up on tells and use them against you in future situations.
When showing no emotion at all, you are not only masking any potential tells, you are exuding an intimidating vibe. An apathetic player gives off the impression that they are highly experienced, and will eat rookies for lunch.
A Few Extra Tips…
At the conclusion of a winning hand, it’s okay to express a little joy. You can crack a smile to let them know you’re human, and the superior player, but never go overboard. No one likes a show off.
On opposite occasions, when you’re beat at the showdown, don’t be a sore loser. A simple “nice hand”, or “well played” will go over nicely. Most importantly, never, ever let yourself get upset. Even if your anger is perfectly veiled, negative emotions lead to bad decisions. Remember the first rule and stay relaxed, no matter what.
Last but not least, it’s generally best to muck your cards whenever possible. Don’t give away anything you don’t have to. Maybe you had a great hand and were simply outplayed? Maybe you had a draw hand that was worth riding to the river? Maybe you had nothing at all and were bluffing your way through? Always keep them guessing – only you need to know the answer to those questions.