One of the most important skills as a poker player is not only being able to read your opponents, but to prevent them from being able to read you. Certain players may be easy to read. For example, a less experienced opponent may smirk or adjust his seat when he has a strong hand. Most tells are habitual, and can thus be hard to control. However, paying attention to your mannerisms and observational skills can go a long way when sitting at the poker table.
Take note of your posture. What is your go-to position of comfort? That can go a long way in a game that may last hours. If you’re seated with your back against your chair, resting with your arms on the table, or leaning on one side, you’re bound to change positions. All of which can convey specific emotions as well. Paying attention to your postural habits can go along way in controlling them.
Aside from taking note of when your posture changes, learn why it does as well. Many players tend to give away their tells by entering the game in a nonchalant position, but then quickly changing to an upright, more alert stance upon receiving a stronger hand. This naturally tells opponents that something has changed with the cards you’ve been dealt.
Your behavior at the table is also an important factor in hiding your tells. Pay attention to your demeanor and whether it is generally calm, eccentric, or varying throughout the game. Habits like pulling out your phone, eating or drinking, engaging in small talk, or other quirks can be easily be seen as tells. However, some of the best players are those that use these psychological tells to their advantage, forcing their opponents to think they are giving something away. Regardless, behaviour habits can be used to your advantage, or hurt your performance.
A great tactic in learning to control your physical mannerisms is picturing how you think your opponents see you. Though you may see yourself as one way during a game of poker, your habits could tell another story to others. Even getting so detailed as to pay attention to your facial expressions can give you better insight as to how other players may be reading you.
Controlling your emotions is perhaps the most important part of not showing your tells. Regardless of the hand you were drawn, the cards dealt by the dealer, or any other actions performed by your opponents, responding in an emotional way is an almost guaranteed way to reveal the nature of your hand. Many players have different means of these controlling these emotions. For example, listening to music while you play can block out any distractions, having a drink on the side may relax you, and so on. Take note of what can trigger you in-game, and learn to resist reacting in that way.
When first starting out, controlling any giveaways is easier said than done. Learning to do so takes time, but with practice, can be perfected. Develop your awareness skills for learning your in-game mannerisms better, which can, in turn, improve your ability to read your opponents’.