In this blog post, you will learn how to use advanced NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques such as “Dissociation” to develop the perfect poker face that can be activated at a moments notice.
A poker face, sometimes also called a “blank expression” is a facial expression characterized by neutral positioning of the facial features, implying a lack of strong emotion.
Having the ability to turn this facial expression on or off on demand will help you to become a better poker player.
A poker face is not limited to the face; the entire body is sending out hidden clues to your opponents that allow them to read the strength of inexperienced players with a high accuracy quickly.
Before we start, here is a list of physical clues that might give you away:
Body language that might indicate a weak hand
- A fake smile
- Acting that they are going to turn their cards over prematurely
- Biting lip
- Breathing through mouth
- Change in speech patterns (forced, incoherent, high-pitched, slow, broken, or unnatural)
- Checking hole cards multiple times
- Chewing gum
- Covers mouth
- Eyes rolling
- Eyes blinking
- Eyes squinting
- Grinding teeth
- Hand over eyes
- Hands and arms go toward the body
- Holding your breath and not moving
- Hugging oneself
- Inhaling when the flop was missed
- Licking or sticking out lips.
- Lips tense
- Nail biting
- Nervously pressing and wring one’s hands
- Picking up chips in a motion that indicates that they will be put into the pot
- Putting chips into the pot with great force
- Riffling chips
- Rubbing of hands, arms, legs, neck, hair, nose, lips, and chin
- Shaking legs
- Staring into space
- Staring at other players
- Tongue in cheek
- Treating hole cards carelessly
- Upper lip stiffens
Body language that might indicate a strong hand
- Acting weak by making noises, sighing or shrugging
- Anything held up in the air, shoulders, head, nose, fingers, thumbs, or eyebrows arching
- Blood pressure is up
- Cheek muscles are starting to flex.
- Drawing in a big breath
- Eyes are not blinking
- Eyes open
- Fingers are going closer toward the middle of the table or towards their stack
- Fluid speech
- Glancing at chip stacks
- Looking at the flop, then glancing intensely at players
- Nose flaring
- Protecting hole cards more than normal
- Pupils of eyes are getting bigger
- Rapid breathing
- Red in the face
- Relaxed lips
- Relaxed smile
- Shaking hands
- Sliding chips delicately, quietly into the pot
- Staring at the flop, then glancing at other players
- Suddenly sitting back in their chair
- Suddenly sitting up in their chair
- Pulsating veins in neck or head
- Trying to act relaxed, looking off at a TV or a waitress, and then betting
- Wanting to bet
You will learn an easy to follow three step process to develop and apply the perfect poker face in your next Texas No-Limit Holdem poker game.
Step 1: Learn Dissociation
Dissociation is an advanced NLP concept, where practitioners are disassociating themselves from their bodies.
The idea might sound a little confusing at the start but bear with me. It is by far the most efficient way to develop the perfect poker face.
To understand the concept of dissociation you have to look at how you experience emotions in your body under “normal circumstances”. Imagine yourself as a dual being with both a mind and a physical body.
Your physical body and your mind are aligned and overlap with each other. If you sense any emotion in your physical body, your mind will follow soon. If your mind feels an intense emotion, your body will release certain neurotransmitters and cause a chemical reaction in your body to mimic your mind’s feeling.
You can use this mechanism to your advantage by “disconnecting” your mind and your physical body through a technique called “Dissociation.”
Imagine your mind as a “spirit”, “soul” or “ghost” who “possesses” your physical body.
Try to move your “spirit form” beyond the barrier of your physical body. Stand beside you and watch yourself through your virtual eyes. Pay attention to your emotions and physical sensations inside your body.
When you develop the ability to virtually “exit” your body, something interesting is happening: Your emotions feel less intense when you stand next to yourself.
The further you move away from yourself, the stronger the effect.
If you want to enhance the effect, you can try to tweak the field of vision of your virtual self. Attempt to reduce the colors, see the scene in black and white.
If you want to go one step further, use a second dissociation on top of the first. Imagine yourself sitting in the comfort of your living room, watching a black and white movie where your virtual self is watching your physical body.
With practice, you will be able to turn off your emotions in a matter of seconds.
Whenever you sit down at a poker table, disassociate yourself from your physical body. When your emotions are disconnected, you will feel less anger when you lose and less euphoria when you win.
Most importantly, you will give away fewer queues in your body language that other players could use to learn if you hold a strong or weak pair of cards in your hand.
Step 2: Playing, the right way
Success factor number two for developing the perfect poker face in Texas No-Limit Holdem player is playing consistently.
You can train this at home. Sit down at a table and activate the clock app on your phone. Alternatively you can place a real watch on the table. Make sure you can clearly see how many seconds pass by at any given moment.
Pick up two random cards from the deck and look at them. Check the time to see how many seconds you need to remember your card. Repeat this a few time to get an accurate data sample.
Place the cards on the table. Focus on the motion. Try to lay down the cards in the same location with the same speed every time.
If you train with a friend, you can now stop looking at the time and just pick up the cards by feeling. Your friend can track the time and inform your whenever your were too fast or too slow. Afterward, you can switch positions.
Pay attention to your eyes. Find a good spot in the room or at the poker table where you can focus and relax your eyes. Avoid looking into other players’ eyes. You might easily give away clues in your eyes. Don’t look around too much and don’t move your head too often.
Control your body language. Avoid unnecessary motions. Notice when your body start to do involuntary movements. Find a parking spot for each body part that allows you to relax. That includes arms, hands feet.
Develop a personal routine and always do each action in exactly the same way at the same time and for the same duration.
Don’t talk to other players during a game, your might lose your composure and give away clues in both your body language, tonality and choice of words.
You can listen to music on your headset if another player is trying to provoke you with words. Pick a calm music to not trigger any unnecessary emotions while listening.
If you have difficulties to control your eye movements, wear sunglasses. This way you can look around without anyone seeing what you are looking at. To maximize the effect, try just to move around your eyes, not your head.
Besides your physical expression, you also want to have a neutral style of playing. The attempt to follow the same betting pattern if you hold a strong or weak hand.
Step 3: Losing & winning, the right way
It is important that you don’t give away any clues when you win or lose. Try to maintain an emotionless “I don’t care either way” attitude whenever you win or lose a hand.
If you don’t show any emotions in either situation, you make it incredibly difficult to read your body language. If you do not have to reveal your hand, your opponents will not be able to read if you had a strong or weak hand or were bluffing.
Over time you can pay attention to finer details as you perfect your poker face.
A good poker face will give you an aura of unpredictability in your poker play.