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Never mind your poker face; it’s your poker arm that matters
Whether you play poker or not, you’ll have heard of the expression ‘poker face’. It’s the ability to keep a neutral expression on your face when playing poker so that no-one can easily tell if you have a good or bad hand.

However, according to a recent study at Tufts University in the USA, it’s not just your poker face that counts. The way your arm and hand moves as you place down your chips could also indicate to other players the quality of the hand you are holding, and it’s harder to move your arm convincingly if you have a poor hand.

To work this out, the researchers had groups of non-experts in the game of poker sit and watch 20 two second video clips of people placing their chips down during a game. The viewers did not know the quality of the players’ hands, but had to judge whether they thought they were holding a good or bad hand, when watching either their faces or their arms and hands in the clips.

The viewers were most accurate when judging the quality of the players’ hands when they watched the video that showed the players’ arms and hand movements only. This suggests that players are capable of covering a bad hand by altering their facial expressions, but aren’t so capable of doing so when it comes to how they move their arms and hands. According to the study, when a player has a good hand, their movements are smooth, but the stress that comes with a poor hand shows through in the way that they move.

Of course, when you’re playing poker online, you can do what you want with your facial expressions and body movements. No-one can take advantage of reading your body language when playing at a virtual poker table.

That’s just one of the many advantages of playing online for recreational players who aren’t taking the game of poker too seriously. If you’re just starting out playing poker, it’s good to get some practice in at the freeroll tournaments, where players don’t have to pay to play, but the casino provides the cash pot, so there’s everything to play for. If you win, great, but if you lose, you’ll have gained some playing experience along the way; which means you’ll be better prepared for playing at games where there’s a buy-in and you have some of your own money at stake.

Playing online, you’ll be able to get lots of practice in and develop your own poker strategy before you start joining higher stakes games. The trick with poker is to keep your bets at a really conservative level until you are sure you know how to play. Even then, there’s always the likelihood of being beaten as there are lots of players out there who spend almost all their time playing poker, treating it as a way to make a living, so never bet with money you can’t comfortably manage without.

Have a look at this poker tutorial video for some tips:

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