The Benefits Of a Good Poker Face and How To Have One

min read
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BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:13 AM

The outcome of a poker game isn’t decided on chance alone. Like many online casino games, poker is a skills-based game and much of the fascination comes from the importance of psychology and strategy

Having a “default” table image is crucial in poker and is needed to ensure that your plays and body language are not easy for opponents to read. This is more commonly known as a “poker face.” 

What It Means To Have a Poker Face

So, what is a poker face? It is a consistent, emotionless expression that gives nothing away to your opponents about the strength or weakness of your hand.

Players first coined this term in the late 19th century to define the practice of maintaining a blank expression to coerce opponents into bluffing or reconsidering their next move. Many players take this practice very seriously in the hopes of winning big.

Interestingly, positive facial features can have the upper hand over a blank poker face as they can influence an opponent’s decisions directly (whereas classic blank expressions may only waiver an opponent’s confidence.) These facial expressions can be shown through a slight smile, by raising your eyebrows and keeping your eyes alert. 

Tips For Having a Good Poker Face

Having a good poker face means having a relaxed, neutral expression. It is important to keep eye contact with others at the poker table while blinking naturally and acting as you usually would.

Since emotion – and the lack of emotion – plays a crucial role in having a good poker face, consider how other players react to certain physical expressions. 

Studies have shown that players are more likely to spend extra time deciding on their next play or become increasingly worried about their opponent’s hand when they are presented with a positive expression rather than a neutral or negative one.

The Role Of Emotion In Poker

The best poker players are said to have sound psychological habits and are able to keep their emotions in check. They’re of the mindset that losses will happen and are part and parcel of playing the game. 

Playing poker with an even temperament means playing the long game and taking the bad beats on the chin. The best players continue making the best possible decisions, knowing they have probability and pot odds on their side.

Ultimately, when it comes to cultivating a table image, your poker face should be the same whether you win or lose a big pot.

How You Can Use This Emotion In a Poker Game

A natural poker face can take time to perfect, but with a little practice and determination, you can keep your opponents on their toes by following these steps: 

Practice Self-Awareness 

Do you have an understanding of how you display your own emotions? When you identify how anger, joy or frustration change your own facial expressions, you can start to recognize these feelings in others. Challenge yourself to see how others’ reactions influence your own decisions when playing a game of poker. 

Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence

Try to maintain a calm and collected expression at all times. This appearance will allow you to make challenging decisions more effectively under pressure. Maintaining this look will also alert others that you are confident and trustworthy in a high-stakes situation. 

Put It Into Motion

You are now in a position of power within your social group. You can recognize and maintain stable emotions in stressful and controlled situations. Practice this skill regularly to perfect your advantage both in and out of the casino. 

The Benefits of Having a Good Poker Face

Having a stock poker face is an important weapon in your poker arsenal to prevent opponents from piecing together information to get an edge over you. This skill is not just limited to the game of poker. 

The benefits of having a good poker face apply to other table games and online casino games, as well as situations after leaving the card table. One study has found that a person’s negotiating skills increase when they’ve perfected an unwavering expression. Negotiating is a valuable skill in the workplace or even in a family dynamic.

Research has also shown that a “positive” poker face can promote more effective outcomes in a stressful situation within a group setting, generate feelings of goodwill toward an individual and make that person more agreeable.

What Are the Risks and Limitations of a Poker Face?

There are some limitations to what a poker face can do for you. Unless you have obvious uncontrollable tells, your opponents won’t be able to read your weaknesses or strengths just by looking at you. 

The danger of focusing too heavily on how you’re perceived is that you overlook how your opponents appear. You could be so focused on your own demeanor that you miss an opponent’s facial cues. 

Ultimately, success at poker requires a balanced poker strategy. While you need to focus on your appearance, you also need to be on the ball with everything else. This includes defending your blinds, pushing opponents to decisions from the button, calling light in early position and mastering your check-raises.

Practice Your Poker Face at BetMGM

If you think you have what it takes to pull off the perfect poker face, why not try it out with an online poker game like Texas Hold’em poker online? Register at BetMGM and play cash games or online poker tournaments. Invite friends and take advantage of the video call option so you’re all on-screen while you play. 

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.