If you’ve been busy developing a snarling, mean poker face in hopes of intimidating casino poker players, then stop! A study done at Harvard University shows that players who smile win more often than those who have a neutral or mean-looking poker face.
The study on poker faces was done by Harvard postdoctoral student Erik J. Schlicht, and his study involved multiple people playing holdem poker. The players were fairly decent since Schlicht had them take a poker strategy test, and the subjects had to score at least a 70 out of 100 to participate in the study.
Once the experiment group was created, Schlicht had the players make decisions on whether to call or fold based on the cards and their opponent’s face. Players either won or lost 5,000 poker chips based on their calls, and folding cost 100 chips.
After thousands of poker hands, Schlicht tallied up his data to find that the players were not impacted when their opponent had either a neutral or intimidating poker face; however, the players did much worse against opponents who smiled as they lost more chips and had more difficulty making decisions.
Schlicht summed is research up by writing, “Mistakes against trustworthy opponents resulted from increased loss aversion, suggesting that participants believed trustworthy opponents were betting with hands of greater value than neutral.”
Based on the results of this study, you can get a lot further by smiling and charming your opponents rather than trying to intimidate them with long, awkward stare-downs. Unfortunately, the only bad part about this study is that it doesn’t apply to online poker because you can’t see opponents (except for 888Poker and their webcam rooms). But it’s safe to say that you’ll be smiling anyways since you can collect tons of rakeback at online poker sites.
Tip of the Day: Since you can’t see an opponent in internet poker, the best way to spot tells is by watching their betting patterns. Most players reveal a lot about their play simply by the way that they bet in certain situations.