Tips To Help You Maintain a Poker Face

min read
Young man playing poker and covering face with cards against a red background.
BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:15 AM

Are you the type of person whose facial expressions are always a dead giveaway, especially during poker tournaments? Then you may want to continue reading to get some bluffing tips and tricks to improve your poker face.

So, what is a poker face? This is a question that a lot of beginners may find themselves asking while trying to find their feet in the competitive poker world.

Simply put, it’s a phrase used to describe a facial expression that hides your true feelings or emotions, which is particularly important during a game of poker. The last thing you want to do is give away something about your holdings and, ultimately, give your opponents the upper hand.

If you happen to be a purist at heart and have yet to explore how to play poker online, then the poker face is a concept that you should be familiar with. When playing live poker and being face-to-face with your opponents, you generally want to be extra mindful of the behavioral information you convey through your body language and speech. Some might argue that this is a skill that needs to be practiced and perfected over time, while others instinctively develop a poker face when they realize that the stakes are high!

How to keep your poker face

With people now gravitating towards online poker and online poker tournaments, fortunately for them, it’s a whole different ball game from live, in-person poker tournaments. When you think about it, maintaining a poker face is a form of communication. Therefore, it must be thought of in a verbal and non-verbal sense. Whether you’re a Texas Hold’em poker enthusiast or enjoy the other popular variations, you need to be aware of what’s happening around you and within you – that’s what it takes to keep your poker face. Here are some other tips to improve your poker face.

Remain cool, calm and collected

Of course, this may be easier said than done when you realize what’s on the line. By intentionally maintaining a relaxed demeanor, you are less likely to react to the turn of events and anything that could be unfavorable to your holdings. Regardless of the cards you’re dealt, you must maintain your composure and remain in control of the situation. Being able to do this can be considered a bit of a superpower because it means that none of your opponents will be able to tell what your next move could be or what you’re thinking.

An aspect that’s linked to remaining cool, calm and collected is your breathing. This can sometimes be overlooked when playing poker, but being anxious or stressed can affect your breathing patterns. Players who take short, quick breaths are visibly frantic and worried, but those who take more controlled, longer breaths seem more in control. A mistake that some people might make when playing live poker is being too concerned by all the external factors and not concerned enough about their breathing patterns, putting themselves at a disadvantage in the process.

Be confident

Keeping a relaxed posture and maintaining eye contact are signs of confidence. This means that even if you know that the odds are against you, nobody else needs to know. The uncertainty regarding your holdings may actually lead to some of your opponents taking a more defensive approach to the game to prevent you from potentially winning. In turn, they may forget about their initial strategy and give you a better chance of beating them.

Tell-tale signs that someone is bluffing

Just as there are ways to maintain your poker face, on the flip side of it are tell-tale signs that you are bluffing. Unless you’re playing online poker and are not sitting across from or next to your opponents, then these are things that you absolutely must avoid doing if you don’t want to give your game or strategy away. Here are just some of the things to look out for if you’re trying to determine whether your opponents are bluffing.

Constantly changing facial expressions or fidgeting

You may think that constantly changing your facial expression to show different emotions is a good tactic to throw people off. It’s actually not. If anything, it can be a sign of nerves and an indication that you’re not feeling too confident about the game. Besides possibly making you look like a complete clown and amateur, reacting to pretty much everything and making weird faces can signify anxiety or being unsettled – a dead giveaway.

Talking too much

Much like consistently making weird facial expressions, talking too much is sometimes viewed as false bravado. People who try to make conversation or talk too much throughout a game are generally thought to be bluffing. It’s widely believed that people act strong when they are weak and weak when they are strong (although this is not always the case.)

Bluffing online?

If you prefer to play Texas Hold’em online or any other variation of poker that you enjoy, just know that although your poker face isn’t quite as important, it still applies. While opponents can’t see each other live in action, there are a few indicators to look out for. For example, when you play poker online, acting too quickly can be a red flag and viewed as a sign of weakness. In a nutshell, online poker tells are mostly about timing and betting patterns, whereas live poker tells have a lot to do with body language, speech and overall demeanor.

As contradictory as it might sound, it’s often said that the key to bluffing is convincing your opponents that you’re not bluffing. These are just some of the key poker tips to keep in mind when bluffing online and in person.

How to improve at poker

As with a lot of things, practice makes perfect (or as close to perfect as you can get), which is true for poker too. Many casino enthusiasts (both novice and experienced players) may ask themselves, “How do I get better at poker?” somewhere along their gaming journey. For starters, in order to improve at something, you need to have the basics in check and fully grasp the fundamentals of the game. A common way to do this is by playing demo games so you don’t lose your money. Alternatively, initiate a poker night as often as possible for you and your friends to gather and improve your gameplay.

Thereafter, you can try our different strategies and approaches to different scenarios to determine what works best. When it comes to poker, there’s an added level to consider because of the poker face element. Teaching yourself to read the room and your opponents’ reactions can put you at an advantage. Similarly, in an online poker setup, you can refer to some of the tell-tale signs of a bluff that have already been mentioned above.

Enjoy the online poker experience

While Las Vegas residents are spoiled for choice when playing live poker at nearby casinos, BetMGM has made it that much easier for those in other parts of the world to play poker online. Whether you enjoy Texas Hold’em poker, Omaha, stud or mixed games, they’re all right at your fingertips when you register at BetMGM.

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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.