As well as knowing the game to a tee and being able to assess players’ positions from their behaviour, being able to maintain a straight face is one of the essentials for poker at any level. Without this, your skilled opponents will be able to smell your fear or confidence and bet or back out accordingly, minimising your wins and maximising your losses.
There is constant debate over whether acting of bluffing is beneficial to a poker player. Some would say that a bad player will not have a clue regardless and a good player will be able to tell whether you’ve got something anyway. According to conventional poker wisdom, the best idea is to give absolutely nothing away. Don’t show satisfaction or fear, whether you have the cards or now. Any emotions which you display can give away small things about what you are holding. For this reason, acting while playing poker to thrown your opponents is not worth the risk.
Some skilled poker players, however, will claim that acting can help you to throw a player, helping you to minimise losses and maximise wins. This is not true for the top players in the world, who have spent years expanding their perceptions of what you are holding based on what you do or don’t do. When it comes to the less skilled players, some will argue that there is a lot you can do to throw them off, allowing you to have a level of control over their actions. This may works 50% of the time or it may only work 20% of the time. Either way, acting is helping you win hands that you may not have otherwise.
Some players live dual careers as an actor and a poker player. This certainly is the case for Anthony Denison, who has played some of television’s grittiest characters. He began playing poker as child and his skills have stemmed from there. He was a dealer in New York, where he furthered his skill and knowledge of the game. When his acting career picked up, he could afford to stop dealing cards. Denison says that a lot of the skills he has learnt are completely adaptable between his two professions. The essential patience and discipline required in poker is much the same as that needed to persist in his acting career. Focus is another key quality, essential in both areas.
Denison has commented that, while some players are not interested in the table banter, he is really interested in watching and interpreting the behaviour of his opponents. He said “I love the banter at the tables. I love watching the people play their strategies and the people who aren’t that good who pretend to be. They are always justifying their reasons for doing this and that, or why they call a hand. It’s also funny to watch the players who have ripped another player like nine times I a row and then finally lost a pot to them and go nuts. Poker players are like lovers, everyone thinks they are the best in the world. When you watch them at the table and they have this machismo or oestrogen attitude, it can be very entertaining.”
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