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The benefits of a good poker face in professional sports are still somewhat unknown with athletes wearing their hearts on their sleeves most of the time. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that per se, the art of keeping your emotions in check when in the heat of battle is an invaluable weapon. So with all of this in mind; could the Blue Devils profit from a shift in temperament by adopting more of a poker face on the court?

Caption: The Blue Devils step out for 2020.

To which you’ve no doubt responded: Why would they need to as they are sitting first in the Atlantic Coast Conference? An astute observation, and one that is wholly correct after a run of fixtures that includes nine wins and only a solitary loss. Indeed, it has been a fast start for the Dukes and their latest win a 77-63 against fifth-placed Virginia Tech was another indication that the Blue Devils are by all accounts, the very best team in this league.

But that’s the thing with being the best or at the top of a certain industry, the pursuit of greatness never ends, and if there’s an extra ounce of improvement to be found, the very best will move heaven and earth in order to access it. 

That’s why incorporating a steely poker face into the Dukes game-plan could give them that extra edge which sees them outfox this league.

What exactly is a poker face?

The official definition of a poker face cuts through all the ambiguity and gets us up to speed in no time: ‘An impassive expression that hides one’s true feelings.’ Probably the single most important life skill one could actually possess when you think back to how many times a deadpan stare could have benefitted you.

It all comes down to you not showing any micro-expression when it’s easier to do so. Now naturally the term comes from the game of poker where you live and die by the face you have on. During a poker game, your opponents are doing everything in their power to get a read on you in order to gauge what type of hand you are holding. Should you give any sort of expression away then you may reveal whether you are bluffing or not. There are many different theories on how to read a poker face and any sort of microexpression, but if you are able to skillfully bluff your way through a hand, it’s nigh on impossible to.

And that brings us onto bluffing which if you can’t do well, then you’re doomed at the poker table, and maybe even life as well, but more on that later. The players that pick up the winning pot at the end of the night haven’t necessarily been dealt the best hands over the course of the evening, oh no, they get the cash at the end of the night because they have successfully bluffed when needed to.

A lot of the time, bluffing in poker is about aggression whilst trying to scare off the opposition by leading them into believing you have a winning hand. Or, on the other end, you could be sitting with a 2-7 offsuit hand during a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. This is the worst hand in poker, because you have no chance of a straight or flush for that matter, which the online poker rules dictate must all be in the same suit, but it doesn’t have to matter if you are able to make the table believe that you have pocket aces.

Although the chances of you being dealt pocket aces are only once every 221 hands, and the probability of winning the hand is only 31.36%, so some bluffing may also be required; and we all know what a big bluff does to the table.