Poker players who are new and experienced may find themselves accidentally forgetting or incorrectly remembering their hole cards in poker games. When this realization comes to mind, you might drop your poker face, inadvertently letting slip to other players that something is wrong.
While this may not be a problem for people who exclusively play online poker, it could be something you want to avoid at the felt. Here’s why a good poker face is so important, as well as some tips to help you remember your hole cards so you never let your poker face slip.
What Is a Poker Face?
Even if you’ve never played a game of poker in your life, you’ve probably heard the phrase “poker face” before in TV shows or movies. You might have even heard it in music by Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift. But what does it mean? The term poker face means someone’s face is expressionless and hard to read.
Why Is a Good Poker Face Important?
If you play poker in person — regardless of whether you play in cash games or tournaments — keeping a face that doesn’t give away anything about the game is vital. This is because it can prevent your opponents from gathering any information they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Poker players who play in person a lot may have brushed up on poker tells (subtle body language clues) that can help them better understand their opponents, and this includes facial expressions. For example, they might be able to know how to tell when someone is bluffing just by looking at their face. By learning to control your expression — particularly when reacting to the hand you’ve been dealt — you take away one of the tools another player could use against you.
Now that you understand why a good poker face is so important, take a look at hole cards and how to remember them.
What Are Hole Cards in Poker?
In poker, hole cards are the cards that are dealt face down to a player. The number of hole cards can vary between two and five, depending on which poker variant you are playing. This means that it can be more difficult to remember your hole cards, depending on which version of the game you like to play.
Tips To Remember Your Hole Cards
Even with games with only two hole cards, players can sometimes make incredible blunders that cost them big wins. One unforgettable incident occurred at the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2009. The USA Today article, “Watch Phil Ivey bizarrely throw away winning cards to 2.1 million-chip pot,” recalls how Phil Ivey faced off against Jordan Smith and made an incredible blunder.
Ivey’s held 8♠ 8♦. The flop revealed 5♠ Q♥ 10♠. This was followed by Q♠. Finally, A♠ was revealed.
This gave Smith a pair of aces. Much to the surprise of everyone spectating, Ivey mucked his hand. He hadn’t realized that his final hand was 5♠ 8♠ 10♠ Q♠ A♠, giving him a flush. According to the article, Ivey had no idea that he actually had the winning flush until the hand was aired on ESPN.
This just goes to show that even the best players can forget what they’re holding. Thankfully, you can take advantage of the following tips to reduce your risk of accidentally forgetting your hole cards, which might cost you an incredible win.
1. Check Your Hole Cards Before Committing to a Decision
While some players recommend against checking your hole cards because it might be a tell, it’s better that you know exactly what you have than accidentally folding when you could have won.
2. Use a Shorthand System To Help You Remember
To make remembering your cards easier, you might want to use a short-hand system. For example, a player on the TwoPlusTwo poker forums suggested using the initial letter of each suit and each card. For example, A♠ (ace of spades) would be “As,” and 10♣ (10 of clubs) would be “10c.”
You could also apply this to colors. For example, if you have an 8 of diamonds and an 8 of hearts, you could remember this as “red eights.”
Poker hand nicknames might also be a useful way to remember what cards you have. After all, it might be easier for you or other players to remember terms like “ladies” (pair of queens) or “dynamite” (pair of 10s) when playing, simply because they’re more interesting than their regular names.
3. Try Chunking
Chunking is a memorization technique that involves breaking down long pieces of information into smaller chunks. While it may not be ideal for a game like Texas hold’em, where you only have two cards, it might prove useful in other variants where you have a full hand of five cards.
For example, if you have A♠ A♥ 2♥ 9♣ 10♣, remembering all five cards offhand might be quite challenging. Instead of trying to commit all the cards to memory, try to focus on splitting your hand into smaller components. By “chunking” separate chunks of information, it will be easier to remember.
Using the previous example hand, you might remember it more easily if you break the hand into the following chunks: A♠ and A♥ as your first chunk, 9♣ and 10♣ as your second chunk, and 2♥ as the final chunk.
4. Try To Link Your Cards With Specific Memories
To help remember your cards, you might want to try to associate them with specific memories. For example, if you have a pair of queens, you might remember them as the QQ emoticon that people used to use before crying emojis existed. Or, if you’re using the previous shorthand system in the list above, you could associate the first 3D movie you watched with the card 3d (3 of diamonds).
5. Remember Your Cards as a Picture
For many people, images are easier to remember than words or symbols, so try to picture the cards as actual images in your mind as a way to embed them in your memory.
Play Poker Online With the Perfect Poker Face at BetMGM
While it’s great to have tips to help you remember your hole cards, one of the major benefits of online poker is that you never have to worry about your poker face or your hole cards since you’re playing online.
But this is not the only benefit of playing online poker at BetMGM. Here, you’ll get access to exciting cash games as well as online poker tournaments in a variety of formats. There are also thrilling variants, including Texas hold’em, seven-card stud, and Omaha, to keep players entertained for hours on end.
Whether you prefer to take part in regular online poker, face off against other players in an online poker tournament, or just play some fun virtual casino games, all you need to do is register at BetMGM to join in all the gambling action.