Poker Face

One thing that everyone knows about poker is you need a good poker face. What does that mean? It means that poker is a war for information, and you want to do everything possible to keep that information from your opponents. A lot of amateur poker players inadvertantly tip their hand by trying to deceive their opponents. In "Caro's Book of Tells", Mike Caro lays out his "strong means weak" philosophy of actors. When a player acts strong, they are weak, and when a player acts weak, they are strong. Usually these actions are a bit subtle. For example, someone might stare at you if they are bluffing, but if they are looking away shyly they have a big hand. Or if someone sighs and then raises, you should probably fold.

Beyond Stoicism

Having a good poker face goes further than simply maintaining a stoic expressio on your face. I'm a big fan of not saying a word while I am in a hand. Tone of voice is one thing that can definitely give you away. Another is emotion. Have you ever seen someone who was genuinely happy at the poker table? That is another person to watch out for. Because people get happy when they have a big hand. One of the best things you can do at the poker table is to remain motionless, except your eyes. You have to see everything, but give nothing away. You want to be a one way mirror. Your opponents will tell you all of their secrets and you will tell them nothing.

Don't Show Your Cards

Another way to avoid giving off any information is by not showing your cards if you can avoid it. In particular, if you win, or if you are folding and lose, then just throw your cards away. Don't try to impress your opponents or please them by showing your hand. Keep them guessing. Don't help them out by revealing the inner workings of your strategy and showing your cards. On the other hand, at showdown I do like to table my hand immediately. I don't want to force my opponents to table, because they might have missed something and if they just muck I will get the pot. Plus it is possible that I might have missed something, which the dealer or other players are supposed to point out if you table your hand.

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A War For Information

Bottom line - poker is a war of for information. So keep a poker face, give off as little information as possible, but watch your opponents carefully so you can make reads on them and be prepared and know what to do when you are heads up in a big pot.