We’ve all heard the term ‘Poker Face’, but just how important is a good one to the game, and how easy are they to read? Let’s take a look at some examples of when it is crucial and also when it might not be as pivotal to your game.
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When it is needed
A poker face is essentially a facial expression in which no indication of the person’s emotions is displayed. It coined its name for its importance to the tabletop game; a poker player who jumps for joy at a good hand, or breaks down in tears at a bad hand, won’t make for much of an opponent to the person sitting opposite them – they might as well show the table their hand.
When it is not needed
Of course, with the digitalization of table-top games, a player’s poker face is less pivotal to the game. For example, when playing a game of poker online, opponents often cannot see your face. So, for example, hopping on a poker match at Paddy Power’s online casino without a strong poker face probably won’t specifically damage your chances of winning too much. Even with the live iterations of poker games available, though a real-time croupier is visible to players, players aren’t visible to one another. Therefore, the game is played very much virtually and with no face-to-face contact.
If an opponent cannot see your face, players can afford to react to their hand, facially, without fear of giving anything away – the game is changing.
Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines a poker face as ‘an inscrutable face that reveals no hint of a person’s thoughts or feelings – it is these thoughts and feelings that are so crucial in a game that is largely played with one’s head.
Having a good ability to read people and their emotions is often a prerequisite to being a successful poker player; while only being able to see your own cards and place bets based on this, you need to be confident that your hand is better than your opponents (or at least bluff your way into looking like it!). If your face signals that you have a weak hand, you give your opponent the upper hand, while signaling a strong hand makes it unlikely for anyone to go up against you with a high stake.
Therefore, face-to-face poker games are hugely reliant on a strong poker face, as this is what high-level players use to evaluate their opponent’s thoughts and feelings and stake their bets depending on this.
However, as mentioned, online poker games do not facilitate face-to-face interactions, so what then?
Well, this changes the game – facial expression readers must adapt their game to evaluate the other players with a different method, while those with a weak poker face can smile, cry, or scream, without having to worry about giving anything away.
So, if you don’t have a great poker face, it would seem that hopping on an online version of the game is the right move for you – or do some research and check out Wikihow’s online guide to developing a strong poker face before you jump into a real-life match.
If you’re great at people reading, perhaps the poker games played face-to-face would better suit your skill set, because, while online games reduce the need for it, a strong poker face is imperative in matches played across a table, so keep those emotions hidden for the duration of the game!