Poker is one of the few casino games that actually rely mostly on skill – and one of those skills is the ability to keep a “poker face”. Poker is a highly psychological game, and many of the best players in the world rely on the most subtle ‘tells’ in order to gauge the cards of their opponents. These ‘tells’ can be as minute as the widening of the eyes or as obvious as a nervous tic. Your best defense against these insightful opponents is to practice on your poker face and make sure that you’re not giving anything away.
The Classic Poker Face
One great way to practice on your poker face is to study how the best casino players in the world do it. Take Phil Ivey for example. He’s one of the best poker players in the world – and some even say that he’s right up there in number 1. When he plays, he hardly ever speaks. In fact, he’s so quiet that if he wasn’t so talented, it’s highly doubtful that anyone would want to watch him play. He’s so expressionless and silent when he plays that it’s almost boring. Erik Seidel is the same, and he’s one of the most talented guys in the industry.
If you can manage to avoid reacting to anything – even if you get a Royal Flush – then you’re good to go. Practice in the mirror if you want, or ask a friend to observe you. The moment you master your poker face, the easier it will be for you to manipulate your opponents.
Build a Poker Persona
Of course, not all people can be as emotionless as Phil Ivey seems to be at the felt. That’s okay; the classic poker face isn’t the only way to win the casino game, after all. Take Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow, for example. They’re both very noisy and very rude on the felt that it’s extremely distracting. They set the other players on edge, and they often win because of this. If you can build your poker persona, you can distract others and actually trick them into thinking what you want them to think. It’s all up to you, really. Just be sure that you’re consistent and that you don’t accidentally give yourself away even more with the personality that you portray. For example, if you like to joke to detract from your weak hand, then joke even when you have a strong hand, that way your enemies won’t know what you have.