Ralph Souquet Poker Face
Photograph by @billiardphots / Flickr

The term “poker face” is not only the name of a popular song by Lady Gaga, it also refers to a poker player’s ability to hide their emotions while playing cards. Poker players put on their poker face so not to reveal their hand or their play. As a result, having a stone cold expression also helps them keep a handle on their emotions.

The same can be said when it comes to pool. Many of the top professionals have mastered the art of the poker face. While watching world champion Ralf Souquet of Germany, you may not know if he has hooked himself or got perfect position just from his body language or mannerisms. He doesn’t want you to know. Not only is Ralf not cracking one frown or smile to reveal the outcome to his opponent, but he is also not going to allow his emotions to effect his performance.

Like poker, pool is also a competition. You are competing to win against another opponent or other players at the table. Believe it or not, a player’s reaction to a game situation can be a sign of weakness. Their emotion at the table does not only affect their own abilities but it is also revealing to you their fragile state. As a fierce competitor, you can capitalize on these observations by staying in control and not allowing their drama to become yours.

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When emotions run high, here are a few simple ways to keep your cool and your poker face at the table:

1. Be consciously aware of your composure at all times. Challenge yourself to keep a straight face without showing any emotion.

2. Be grateful. If you feel your blood boiling, immediately think of something to be grateful for. This will help put things in perspective. Think of something positive.

3. Take a slow, deep inhale and slow, relaxed exhale.

4. Keep a towel, jacket, or something with you that to hold on to or squeeze should you need an outlet.

5. Step away from the table and take a sip of water. If it won’t subside, disguise it.

Developing your poker face will take much time and practice. However, once it becomes natural, you’ll begin to notice how much calmer you now are when faced with less than ideal circumstances.

Don’t let your opponent read your poker face. Read theirs and keep your emotions in check. The next time you’re in the mile high area and looking for a Denver billiard instructor, be sure to look me up.