Paul Phua Poker School: Keeping a Poker Face

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Keeping a poker face

It is very important as a beginner in Texas Holdem Poker to learn how to keep composed and not give too much information away. You do this by keeping a poker face.

If there is one poker term that has permeated into wider society, it’s just that – the phrase “keeping a poker face”.

If you asked 10 people in the street what the term poker face meant, it’s very likely that 9 out of 10 of them would say that it just means staying very still, like a statue. Keeping your expressions unchanged, so that it is impossible to read what you are thinking.

Paul Phua says it’s not just about that – though some players do maintain a poker face by doing just that, behaving like a robot. Paul says though that there are lots of ways to skin the poker face cat. It’s worth remembering what your objective of keeping a poker face is. It’s all about finding a way to reduce or eliminate the signals you give off as a player that indicate to your opponents what you are thinking, and therefore what cards you have. In short reducing your tells (for more on tells, please watch this video –

Paul Phua thinks that a poker face is about consistency, not about being a statue. The way Paul maintains a poker face during a game of Texas Holdem Poker, either in casino games, or at poker tournaments, is by making sure that he repeats all the normal actions he does around the poker table in a similar space of time. So for example, make sure that you take 10 seconds to put your chips into the middle of the table every single time you carry out that action during a poker hand or a poker game. Whether you have really good cards or really bad cards. Or have the same expression on your face whether you are dealt a pair of Aces or a 2 and a 5 off suit. Make sure, Paul Phua says, you aren’t too deliberate in your actions when you get good cards, compared to when you are dealt poker hands which aren’t so exciting. Act the same in both scenarios.

Paul Phua thinks that one of the most common mistake beginners to the game of Texas Holdem make is not being able to help acting differently in different scenarios. He says that they should develop a consciousness about acting the same way across all hands. Keeping a Poker Face, he says, isn’t about immobility. It’s about consistency. Don’t let your actions give your hands away!

Keeping a poker face

Many players will look for tells from you. Body movements, facial expressions, eye movements etc.

So I try to act the same in my actions and my expression – whether I am bluffing or not.

So I try to take the same or a similar amount of time to make a decision to bet, call, or check, on good hands or not so good hands.

Amateur players often bet on good hands very quickly, for example calling on top pair. A good player might catch that and know “this guy has top pair”, rather than a flush draw.

Make all your decisions in the same amount of time. That’s a good poker face.

This doesn’t mean though that you can’t be relaxed at the table.

I always feel quite at ease at the table even against good players, because I know with my poker temperament I can match them. When you are at ease you think better, you make better judgments than if you are nervous, or overawed. Just be yourself and try to make the right judgment calls. Be composed.

But you also need to bet and raise and call in the same time frames. Don’t let your actions give your hands away.

Source: YouTube

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Paul Phua Poker School: Keeping a Poker Face

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