With two Cash Game Festival summer stops ahead of us, we started thinking about poker face. Not about Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, although it is an epic piece of work, but the face you put up at poker tables when you try your hardest not to give your opponents any leads about the strength of your hand. So, how to have a good poker face? And what’s the value of being able to put up a good poker face?
What is a Poker Face?
According to Wikipedia, a deliberately-induced blank expression meant to conceal one’s emotions is also known as a poker face, referring to the common practice of maintaining one’s composure when playing the card game poker. “Poker face” is one of the few terms that has made its way out of the poker world and into the common language, referring to someone’s ability of keeping their emotions in check.
But when was this term first coined? Apparently, there are not many sources out there that can give reliable leads. However, PokerTube was able to find what they consider to be a first written record of the mention of the term. It comes from a book about card games that was originally published in year 1875.
“It follows that the possession of a good poker face is an advantage. No one who has any pretensions to good play will betray the value of his hand by gesture, change of countenance, or any other symptom.” Cavendish.Round Games at Cards. London: Thomas De La Rue & Co. 1875;
There it is. A quote from an “ancient” poker book has also brought to you by Cash Game Festival! 😉 Only for you, our friends!
How to Have a Good Poker Face?
Now that we have shed the light on the origin of “poker face”, let’s discuss some ways to have a good one. You know, the one that all WSOP winners have.
Having a good poker face is quite hard if you are not born with one. It can be very difficult to keep calm when emotions are high, be it excitement or disappointment. So, learning to relax and control your emotions is the key.
Start with breathing. Deep breathing will calm you down, allowing to control your facial expressions.
In order to keep your face in check, you need to learn to relax your facial muscles. So, clear your mind, wiggle your face to loosen the muscles, take a deep breath and relax. Remember that you need to be able remain the relaxed facial expression at all times, no matter “what’s in the news”. That will take some practice. But there is such phenomena as muscle memory, so if you do this enough (not only when playing poker), you will remember what if feels like to have a poker face and this will become automatic for you.
You can practice in front of the mirror but do not rely on this method. Because, in the end, you need to be able to get that face right without the mirror.
Do Men Have Better Poker Faces?
Apparently, for men, it is easier to emotionally detach themselves from situations at hand or at least pretend that “they don’t care.” Why? This leads us back to the time when we are little. Boys are expected not to cry and be “manly”, protective, whereas girls are expected to be happy-smiley-caring at all times. These expectations will change the behavioral patterns until we re-learn that it is OK for men to tear up from time to time and that most women with “resting bitch faces” are actually nice people.
So, in theory, if men can hide their emotions better, they should be able to have a better poker face. However, we can already hear an army of poker ladies arguing against this. This is a matter of a whole other discussion. We just love all poker poker people equally. 😉
Benefits of a Good Poker Face Outside Poker
Somewhere in Canada, they found out that blank expression aka poker face is making you look younger. And that’s when we all thought that wearing a smile will make us appear younger than we really are. So, keep up the good poker face if you think that you can benefit from looking a couple of years younger.
Also, the less we grimace the less wrinkles we will have. Goodbye to Botox and hello poker face!
Moreover, keeping a good poker face while experiencing negative emotions can make us more charismatic. Why? Because we all know that emotions are infectious. So, when people around us can detect some negative emotions such as disgust, anxiety, nervousness etc., they will pick it up and will experience the same. So, if you want to improve your social standing, do show your positive emotions but keep negatives ones in check by wearing a poker face. Of course, there’s the issue of people who perceive neutral facial expression as a negative one but that’s another topic that we will not discuss here. However, do know that this phenomena exists.
Does it Really Matter to Have a Good Poker Face?
Some say, it doesn’t. What matters is not wearing a blank expression but hiding the way you feel at the table. The point here is that you can behave the way you want as long as it’s consistent and does not give any leads. For example, if you are chatty and smiling, keep behaving the same way as you always do, even if you are holding the worst cards of your life. That way, no-one will ever know what’s going on in your brain.
Moreover, new research out of Stanford University suggests that poker players’ arm movements may betray the strength of the hands they are holding, even when their faces remain expressionless. What’s more, it appears that even non-players can detect these motion “tells” in professional card players.
Apparently, in their tests, those who also saw the arm movements of poker players were able to more accurately judge the quality of the hands. You can watch our Twitch streams during the London festival on July 11-15 and test the theory out. Cool, isn’t it?
So, keep those hands in check too, baby!
Come Show Us Your Best Poker Face at Cash Game Festival Summer Stops!
In the summer of 2018, we are having two awesome stops. One in London on July 11-15 and the other one in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria on August 8-12. Check out our website for more info and register for our TV table. Playing at our TV table is a sure way to be able to see how telling your poker moves actually are.
Poker love <3
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