Do you have a poker arm?

We’re all familiar with the term ‘poker face’ – it’s when you keep an emotionless expression on your face to hide a great hand during poker, but ‘poker arm’ could be a new addition to the lexicon of poker terminology following a recent study by Tufts University in the USA.

Of course, for poker players who play online at sites like 32red, this isn’t that relevant, but for people who play in live tournaments, it might be worth watching your body language when you play poker, as well as your facial expressions.

The study found that players betrayed the value of the hand they were holding in the way that they moved their arms and hands as they placed chips down on the table for a bet. No matter how straight they kept their face, their arm and hand movements could give them away to other players around the table.

Players who had a good hand would place their chips down with a smooth movement of their arm. Those who are trying to blag aren’t as able to move their chips so easily, and can be second-guessed by other players straight away.

Three separate studies were carried out with men and women watching two-second long video clips from the 2009 World Series of Poker. They were asked to rate the hand being held judged on their view of the players’ faces or arms. The people watching the clips were not experts in the game of poker and their judgements about the hands being held were poorer when based on the players’ face rather than random guesses. This suggests that a pro player can conceal how good their hand is in their facial expression and can also create deceptive expressions. When the judgements were made on watching players’ arm movements, though, the results were much more accurate.

The theory is that players who have a good hand will naturally be more confident in the game and that confidence is reflected in the steadiness of their movements. Any stress that they might feel because of a poor hand could affect how their move their arms and hands, and this is what gives them away.

Of course, online poker players don’t need to worry about these subtleties. That’s one of the many advantages of playing online – no need for a poker face or arm as the anonymity of the internet protects you. Click to play in an online casino here and you’ll be able to make whatever facial expressions you like as you play, or wave your arms around like a fiend, and none of your opponents will be any the wiser.

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