Keeping the proverbial ‘poker face’ has been one of the greatest winning strategies employed by the masters of the game.
There was a time when hiding emotions was not deemed crucial to victory, due to the prevalence of online poker. However, today’s extremely fast wi-fi and 4G internet connections mean that live streaming of poker games is becoming increasingly more common than ever before. This has led to a resurgent interest in mastering the art of the poker face. Since players from all over the world can observe every single nuance of your facial expressions in hi-res closeups, you really have to know how to keep your facial expressions in total control. Let us see how you can do so without giving anything away:
Always Try and Relax Your Face
Your face is a dead giveaway, especially if you cannot ‘lock’ in your emotions. Are your emotions up on display when you play an online poker tournament? If yes then, you may be looking at a really long losing streak as other, more experienced players can see through your bluffs.
In fact, keeping your emotions as well as reactions firmly in check throughout the online poker game is a key part of playing poker. Always remember that almost any sort of expression will lead to a corresponding sacrifice in the power you hold. This power is every bit as important as your poker hand, especially in a crutch tournament as it helps to clear your mind.
If you feel that you are ‘tensing up’ in a situation, you might try to wiggle your face in order to loosen your muscles. In fact, if you were to try and relax by taking a few deep breaths, you will be able to reassert control over your emotions. Always remember the two strong reasons for hiding your emotions:
- You ‘have’ to be in control of the game and if you are too stressed to do so, you will lose that control.
- Hiding your reactions gives you a certain amount of power in the game. After all, no one really knows what you are thinking, or for that matter, what you are about to do.
Try and Maintain Eye Contact with Other Players
If a player looks at you through the screen, you should try and maintain eye contact. This will show that you are not intimidated and convey that you are highly confident and sure of yourself.
Furthermore, maintaining eye contact is a sure sign that you have nothing to hide. So they really have no idea of what to expect from you at all. If you find ‘locking eyeballs’ to be a bit difficult, you can look at the bridge of their nose. This holds particularly true when you are playing an online tournament where everyone has a webcam option. This is also an excellent strategy for an offline poker game as well.
It’s OK to Blink Occasionally
Blinking can give you away. Many people blink excessively when they are nervous. If you end up doing this during the poker game, your opponents will know that you are intimidated, and they may take advantage of you then. They may up the ante, so try not to go overboard. However, this doesn’t mean that you become so conscious and don’t blink at all. Not blinking at all is also a telling sign that you are trying to hide something or are nervous.
There is a certain balance between blinking too much or not at all. Just try to be natural, without staring at the opponent too much or glancing all over the place like a scared parrot.
Keep Your Jaw Relaxed and Lips Pursed Together
Any frown, tension, smile or even a slight smirk will automatically influence the rest of the face. However, if you relax your jaw you will be able to hide most of your facial muscles. Loosen up your jaw, by opening and closing your mouth slightly, every few minutes.
Here is how some facial expressions can give you away.
Mr. Peter Parker got a royal flush. Unable to hide his expressions, he laughed out loud in sheer joy and with shining eyes. Everyone saw his facial expressions and deduced that the game was up. So instead of raising him, they all folded immediately.
Mr. Clark Kent had ‘two of a kind’ as his strongest cards, but he tried to bluff by upping the ante. However, he was grinding his teeth and his jaws were clenched as he did so. The other players figured out that he was bluffing and promptly called him out.
In both of the above examples, facial expressions gave the game away and the players in the game were able to exploit this weakness for their own benefit.
Wear Eye Shades
Sometimes, drastic measures may be required if you can’t control your emotions at all while playing online poker. You can wear sunglasses in every game. Not only will it give you a mysterious persona, but it also hides your expressions to a large extent
Now that you know how to play in an online poker tournament, why don’t you join a game and try out all these tips and pointers on random opponents? Who knows, you just might win the poker pot!