Phil Ivey’s Poker Face

ivey-full tilt poker

Everybody knows that if you play poker, or even if you don’t, your poker face can contribute to about half of your wins or losses. Indeed, our facial motility is very active and very difficult to control. Responsible for a substantial part of our communication habits, our facial expressions are some of the most essential data transmission channels. They convey a lot of essential emotional information. And even if you try to keep yourself emotionless, there always are tiny movements of your facial muscles that you cannot fully control.

Someone who can trace these movements and read your facial micro-expressions will get some important information you would prefer to conceal. Reading your face means reading your cards, in every sense. But poker players trying hard to keep their faces immovable and unreadable often appear stone-faced and cold. Sometimes, especially if you are bluffing, it can be better to act more trustworthy – just in order to make your opponents believe that you really have a good hand.

So, if there is no way to fully control your facial expressions, how do you make sure your face is ‘poker enough’ and not ‘poker too much?’ Is there anyone who can do it? Let’s take Phil Ivey, for an example – a man whose facial expression is rightfully believed to be one of the poker-est facial expressions in the world. How does he do it?

Phil Ivey – Full Tilt Poker Face Commercial

There was a funny banned commercial of Full Tilt featuring Phil Ivey. Phil, wearing a black suit and white shirt, comes back home, walks up the stairs, enters his bedroom and freezes in the doorway seeing his wife…well…doing things with another man. Phil chews his gum, expressing nothing, his eyes moving here and there as he takes in the scene.

Another man comes in, passing by Phil and apparently willing to join the company in the bed. But Phil’s face remains fully impenetrable. A voiceover follows, inviting you to play poker with the best professionals on Full Tilt.

Maybe this is what it is all about: your face is not a wooden mask. You cannot and need not fully suppress your facial motility. But you should remain calm. And nobody should know, or figure out, what you are planning on doing. With that face in the commercial, Phil’s character could turn around and walk away, incurious and uncaring, or equally, pull out a gun and shoot them all, because you never know what to expect from people wearing such faces, really.

Classic Poker Face of a Poker Genius

What is the main feature of Phil’s poker face? The first thing you notice is a deep, piercing stare. It gives you an eerie impression that you are not only read but also seen through. This feeling could paralyze your own ability to read Phil’s face.

His face is calm and his emotions are under full control. Not many people can still have the same facial expression, regardless if they are winning or losing hundreds of thousands or even millions, and practically not reacting to the cards they see.

He stays focused and concentrated. There is nothing else on his face but focus. This is the face of a man who thinks deeply and quickly, and who makes the best possible decisions in a given situation, irrespectively of winning or losing, getting lucky or not, having good or bad cards. This is the face of the man who is one of the best poker players in the world.

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