To be successful at poker, it is crucial to not only understand the opponent’s hand by observing their speech, behavior, body language, and facial expressions but also to learn how to minimize your poker tells. If you want to reduce your poker tells, you need to know how to maintain a good ‘Poker Face’ and understand the concept of a table image.
Your table image infers the type of poker player you are in your mind and your opponents’ minds.
Poker Face Meaning
A poker face meaning refers to a consistent neutral expression on a player’s face that neither transmits joy nor sorrow, irrespective of the player’s hand. A poker face makes the player unreadable to the opponents in the game.
Maintaining a good poker face, not expressing any reactions during the game, and keeping your body in a relaxed position while interacting with other players can get tricky when the game gets challenging. However, you will find the key to winning poker games effortlessly if you master keeping your poker face and table image intact by applying a few techniques.
Your Table Image
When you play poker, your table image for your opponents depends on your recent history of moves and actions. It’s how a player, who has never played against you, views your play based on your recent actions. For instance, if you have always been a tight, aggressive player for years and tend to raise aggressively, chase when you have the pot odds or fold when you are behind. However, in an ongoing poker session, you are dealt a strong pre-flop hand, making you raise pre-flop. The table image you will let out for yourself is not a tight-aggressive player but someone who raises with little.
Therefore, irrespective of what your regular opponents know about your playing style, your table image can be quite different for new opponents based on how you have been playing in that game.
Making the Best of Your Table Image
You can take advantage of your table image when you are playing at a table with all new players. For instance, if your opponents disrespect your raises and bets because of your table image in their minds, you can be more aggressive with very strong hands. Moreover, you should not try to bluff if your image is that of a maniac, as your opponents will not believe you.
On the other hand, if your table image is that of a weak player, someone who tends to fold during pressure rather than call, you can be more inclined towards chasing. Assuming that you will fold, your opponents will tend to bet strongly with weak or moderately strong hands. If your opponents view you as a tight passive player, you should bluff or semi-bluff more frequently, as your opponents are more likely to believe your strong bets.
The idea is to take advantage of your table image misperceived by your opponents and win the game by playing the opposite of what your opponents expect.
Keeping Your Table Image Intact
Your table image cannot be static at all times. Your opponents may have a different image of you initially, but as you play more hands, the more observant opponents will re-evaluate your image, and it will get difficult to trick them after that. While your opponents may perceive your table image as tight in the early game sessions, they might view you as more complex as you play more hands. To keep your table image intact in front of your opponents, you need to give them credit for catching your play while also accounting for their new image of your play when you devise a different poker strategy. Keep adjusting your playing style according to the perception of your table image in your opponents’ minds.
Poker Face Meaning and Tips on Maintaining a Poker Face
You need to keep a check on your poker face, meaning you shouldn’t be expressing any positive or negative reactions in the game. Maintaining a poker face during challenging situations requires applying certain techniques to relax your face, and maintain neutral body language and voice. Here are some essential tips for maintaining a good poker face:
Tips to Keep Your Poker Face in Check
Relax your face
Your face is the first poker tell that your opponents observe, and can make or break your game. Therefore, keeping your facial expressions, reactions, and emotions in check when dealt a hand is crucial for your poker strategy. The first step to keeping your face in check is to take a deep breath and relax your facial muscles.
Maintain eye contact with opponents
Maintaining eye contact with your opponents gives off an impression of you being confident and intimidating for the opponents. Moreover, it also implies that you aren’t hiding anything, making it difficult for the opponent to read your face. Therefore, you must maintain eye contact with the opponent by looking at the bridge of their nose to stay focused.
Avoid staring at others
Ensure that you are not staring at things or focusing really hard on your cards, which may compromise your poker face. Staring into blank space or at your cards shows that you are either not paying attention or are concerned about your hand. Keep blinking naturally to avoid this poker tell.
Keep your jaw relaxed and lips intact
It’s essential to keep your jaw relaxed and lips intact to avoid giving off a smirk, frown, or smile. Avoid showing your teeth or grinding them as your jaw will display the pressure on your teeth.
Consider wearing sunglasses
Try looking straight rather than looking through the left or right corners of your eyes. You should minimize your eye movements so that your opponents don’t use your eye movements as a poker tell. You can wear dark sunglasses if you find it difficult to conceal your eye movement.
Also Read: Typical Beginner Mistakes in Poker
How to Improve Your Body Language?
Relax your posture
While playing poker, you must keep a relaxed posture. Relax the tense muscles in your body, arch your back, sit in an upright position, and take a deep breath to shake off the anxiety and get back into a natural posture.
Fidgeting with things is a huge poker tell about your excitement or nervousness for poker players. Avoid little movements such as tapping fingers, nail-biting, knuckle cracking, leg cracking, rubbing hands or face, or tugging something.
Divert your tension elsewhere
If you find it difficult to maintain the tension in your body, it’s best to divert your pressure elsewhere. You can curl your hand into a fist or hold a stress ball to divert all the tension to only a small part of the body.
How to Maintain a Neutral Voice?
Keep your tone even and balanced
Your voice and tone also give out a lot of information about your hand. Therefore, it is essential to watch your tone. For instance, if you have a quiver in your voice, it may be understood as a weak hand.
Use a few and simple words while speaking
During high-pressure situations, stuttering, stumbling through sentences, and using filler words are quite common but also display nervousness. It is best to keep your words short and simple during high-stress situations.
Use head nods if you’re uncomfortable speaking
If your voice tends to quiver or if you think your voice could be used as a tell by the opponents, you can also stick to nodding your head in a yes or no when the dealer or any other player asks something.
You can confuse your opponents by constantly talking
If staying silent is not your cup of tea, you can also be counter-intuitive and comment on every hand. Use false reactions to confuse your opponents, constantly talk to distract them, and divert their attention from the game. However, ensure that you don’t give out a tell by constantly similarly talking to your opponents.
Why Is Keeping a Poker Face Important
Keeping a poker face is important for the following reasons:
- To control facial expressions.
- To focus your mind in the ongoing game.
- The opponent cannot figure out your body language and assume what your hands are.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining a poker face and keeping your table image intact is essential to being successful at poker. However, as a poker player yourself, you shouldn’t rely heavily on poker tells of getting information about your opponents’ hands because experienced players can confuse you with false tells. Therefore, along with collecting information about your opponents, you should ensure that your poker face and table image remain intact to confuse your opponents and win the game.