Poker Face

There is no easy way to say this other than to just come right out with the truth; your poker face is overrated. There I said it. I meant it too. That is the truth. You do not need to worry very much about your facial expression when sitting at the poker table. I am sure there are a few players that need to work on keeping a straight face when making a bluff or a big bet. For the most part most players just need to go play poker relax and enjoy themselves.

I am very good at reading players and I can honestly say that is very rare that anything in their facial expression tells me what they have. The “tells” come from the fact that I have a great memory and people tend to fall into the routine of doing the same thing in the same situation over and over. I look at things like bet size and timing. I look for physical “tells” such as where the chips are placed. If I happen to be looking at a player I am probably looking for subtle “tells” such as heart rate, blinking, and depth of breathing. A slight flushing or change of color could lead me to the answer but those players are rare and do not last long because it is simply too easy to spot a person that breaks out in hives every time they bluff.

A simple “tell” that I use and many players have is that their hand shakes when they have a strong holding. When they go out to make the bet you can see their hand shaking. This is caused by an adrenaline dump and is only controlled through experience. Just learn to relax and stay calm at the table. Do not let yourself get excited when you make a hand. This is accomplished through playing thousands of hands at the table.

One of the “tells” that I had for a long time was protecting my chips. This seems like a very subtle thing but it was something I was doing sub-consciously and players were taking advantage of it. I had to pay big money to discover my own “tell”. Once I became aware of the “tell” it took a lot of work to break that habit. The hardest thing in the world is to spot your own “tell” and it usually requires a good friend, mentor or coach to help you. If you find that you have a “tell” and need to work on it, I suggest you get some help from somebody that you trust and you spend some time working at the tables to eliminate that “tell”.

The term poker face is really used to mean the person that sits at the table stone faced and never changes their expression. I am not a fan of this type of behavior and find it entirely unnecessary and counter productive. People that come to the poker table to lose money are there to have fun and the winning players should do everything they can to make sure they have fun and keep bring money to the table. So put away that stone faced look and lighten up a little bit. A poker face is not that important unless you go by the nickname of Lady Gaga.

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