Body language has a very important role in day to day communications, even if most people don't really notice it. Small things like the quirk of an eyebrow, the set of the mouth or slight tilt of the head are easily overlooked, but can speak volumes about what somebody is thinking or feeling. There is great benefit to be had from paying attention to the body language of others. It can even help you improve your poker skills to help you win big and more often. You may not have thought about it, but you're always giving away clues that leave the competition better able to guess what kind of a hand you've got. However, you can make it work for you, too. The poker community calls these "tells" and you can read on some of them below and use them to your advantage in your next game.
Windows to the Soul
It is said that one's eyes can convey all of their thoughts and feelings. There must be some truth to that, because it's incredibly common in poker for players to wear dark sunglasses to keep others from seeing the way they look at their cards. Most players spend longer looking at their good cards than their poor ones. It allows anyone who's paying attention to accurately guess how many good or bad cards you've got and act accordingly.
Another popular accessory for the poker player is a hat or visor. This not only shields their eyes, but partially hides their face, as well. When you look at your hand, the briefest of emotions shows upon your face, belying the quality of your hand to other players. It's not always easy to maintain a poker face, especially when you're doing very well or very poorly, so it's best to conceal your expressions.
If things get too intense, players may exhibit signs of extreme nervousness or excitement: shaking hands, dilated pupils, twitchy movements and a shaking voice. This sort of reaction is especially common when the player has a favorable hand. Beware that some players use this tactic as a bluff, as it is very easy to make it look real.
It is not uncommon for novice players to hold their breath when bluffing. Similarly, those who have a good hand will tend to breathe rapidly and heavily. It's best to keep your breathing as even and relaxed as possible at all times. Unlike most reactions, this one is easily controlled.
Your posture is another one of those things that you don't pay attention to. When you're holding a good or bad hand, your posture is likely to reflect your feelings on it. Slumping even slightly can indicate a poor hand and lack of confidence, whereas a straight, erect posture can reveal the opposite. Leaning forward is considered to be a sign of bluffing.
It's important to exercise caution when focusing on body language during a poker game. It requires concentration and practice to be able to distinguish between a bluff and the genuine article. Experienced players can be very good at hiding their reactions. Also, body language won't help you much with online poker unless you're able to see the other players via video chat.