How To Stop Yourself From Giving The Game Away

You’re at the poker table with the best hand you’ve seen in ages. You know that if you make the wrong move, you’ll give yourself away and risk your opponent waging less. Or maybe it’s the opposite. You know that your pair of twos is probably not going to get you very far, but you are willing to bet out the other players if only you can withhold your tension.

Poker Face

A poker face is something all gamblers should know how to execute with ease. says you need to, “construct a barrier between your inner thoughts and your adversary’s.” They even go as far as to state that a poker face is, “essential for anyone who wants to be taken seriously,” explaining that if you fail to achieve this ability you will be easily defeated by more powerful individuals, whether in the business world or at the casino.

So how do you go about perfecting that perfect expressionless mask? You can start by appearing uninterested. This can be executed with careful placement of your eyes. Rather than looking directly at your opponent or your winning hand, instead, practice viewing your target through the sides of your eyes while you seemingly look elsewhere. Using peripheral vision rather than a direct gaze will lead others into believing that you are simply thinking of other things or soaking in the atmosphere.

Should you need to look at your opponent for whatever reason, keep your gaze fixed on their nose rather than directly meeting their eyes with your own. This will give off the impression that you are looking at them directly, while really avoiding their full-on watch. Avoiding direct eye contact will allow you to seem un-phased by any emotional or social cues that they may use to try to evoke a reaction out of you.

Body Language

How do you keep from becoming overly excited and giving yourself away through body language? First, it may be beneficial to understand what is actually happening inside of your brain when you become excited or nervous. While the human brain is a highly evolved network, we are still largely controlled by the reptilian brain. This part of the brain is responsible for the fight or flight response, which was originally meant for survival. In today’s world, this can cause some predicaments. When you’re in the middle of an intense poker match, the last thing you want is your fight or flight response giving away your hand.

So is it even possible to control your reptilian reflexes and mask your true emotions? With practice, we say you most certainly can. While it may not be possible to prevent adrenaline from being released altogether, it is possible that you can learn to override some of the physical expressions of this physiological response.


Breathing is one of the first things affected by the release of adrenaline. By focusing on your breathing you can regain control of a normal respiratory rate and prevent further physical symptoms. Take note of any irregularity in your rate of breathing and take a few deep breaths to regain composure. Secondly, do a quick all-over body overview to visualize any tense areas. Consciously relax your muscles and your mind will follow.

By practicing these tips, you can gain control of your own emotions and retain a poker face under even the most thrilling moments in the game. Once you can master the art of total self-control, you will truly be a force to be reckoned with, both in the casino and in your everyday life.