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It’s a rising feeling in your gut, that travels up and sparks a light bulb in your brain. “I know what he’s got,” you think. “If I bet here, he has to fold. He just has to.”

Seasoned poker players will tell that there’s nothing quite like getting a read on a guy. For amateurs, it’s a rare occurrence, and more often than not an incorrect call, but even when you’re wrong, there are a few moments of feeling like, as Phil Laak would put it, a Super Genius. Making that impossible lay down or firing out the perfect bluff, you convince yourself that you could make it as a pro.

Perhaps for the high rolling set, picking up on a slipped syllable is routine, but I’m willing to bet it still feels pretty good to know you’ve learned a secret your opponent didn’t even realise he was revealing.

Facing off against the following five players, these kinds of experiences are few and far between. It’s more than just their eyes and mouth that gives them such a good ‘Poker Face’, the whole body is involved. Trying to get a read on them is an exercise in futility.

Jason Mercier

Photo by Equipo Unibet

Jason Mercier is something of a tournament expert. The 2009 Bluff Player of the Year burst onto the scene in 2008 with two final tables in the EPT, following them up with a victory in the EPT London High Roller event. At the 2009 WSOP he captured his first bracelet in a $1,500 PLO tournament, confirming his status as a master of multiple disciplines.

Undoubtedly, Mercier has a perfectly calibrated sense of when to change gears and how to react to the ups and downs of tournament life, but he has another powerful tool in his arsenal. The American, whose slender frame sits hunched over his stack, is the perfect picture of disinterest. Even when he’s just fired out an audacious all-in bluff, he stares straight at the felt like a bored teenager in a doctor’s waiting room. It’s a setup you’re never likely to see through.

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Vanessa Rousso

Photo by Flipchip

Your lasting impression of Vanessa Rousso may not be of a stony poker face, but you’re probably remembering her bubbly post-game interviews or you just think she’s hot and have forgotten everything else. At the table, however, she a picture of zen calm. With her trademark cap and dark sunglasses, she gives almost nothing away; facets that have helped her accrue $3 million in live tournament earnings.

Don’t believe me? Ask former FBI agent and master of body language, Joe Navarro. “For hours she played in this fashion and although I’ve spent my career training myself to look for nonverbal signals, she revealed very little. After observing her for a period of time, I’m convinced that nobody else at that table could read her and it showed in the chip counts.”

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Patrik Antonius

Photo by Flipchip

The ice-cool Finn and his razor sharp cheekbones have seen off many a bankroll in the online nosebleed games, but, as his appearances on High Stakes Poker will testify, he’s no slouch in live cash games either. That has a lot to do with his impassive visage.

In many ways, Antonius is lucky. Unlike other pros who work hard to cultivate their poker face, Patrik’s blank expression must be hereditary. There’s probably a greying Antonius senior sitting somewhere in the frozen north, watching in stony-faced joy as his son rakes in yet another $100,000 pot. In my very limited experience of Finnish people, sitting quietly is something of a national past time, but their introversion can quite easily belie a fiery character.

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Phil Ivey

Photo by Flipchip

There’s not much to say about Phil Ivey that hasn’t already been committed to digital paper a thousand times over. In case you weren’t aware: he’s really good at poker. All of it. No matter what format or stakes, Mr. Ivey has it beat. His colleagues constantly name him as the best living player; perhaps the best ever.

Ivey’s face only has two modes: grinning or gormless. He’s either chuckling to his friends about some $8 billion sports bet he lost last week or focussed totally on the cards and his opponent. Famously, the only part of his face which moves during a pot are his eyes. Taking in every single inch of the game with robotic precision, Ivey’s eyeballs give away only that he is paying attention. And that’s something to be afraid of.

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Chris Ferguson

Photo by Flipchip

The man they call Jesus is a paradigm of the poker face. Some might say he cheats, covering up his physical features with biblically long hair, a large cowboy hat and dark glasses, but there’s no denying that trying to prise out a tell from his behavior is about as helpful as asking a cat for directions.

Plus, as we’ve discussed, there’s more to disguising your motives than just protecting your face. Chris always takes his time and keeps his movements short and the to the point. It’s this economy of action which makes him so difficult to read, more that his unshakable demeanor.

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Phil Hellmuth

Photo by Flipchip

Only joking.