Obama’s Poker Face

I’ve noticed a few folks mentioning how Obama has one heck of a poker face.  After looking at the events of the past few days in hindsight, I find it very hard to disagree.

The best example came last Saturday night, as he sat through this joke by SNL’s Seth Myers…

Note that laughing smile when they pan back to the President…that’s an act.   Completely.   Not only did Obama know exactly where Osama was, but also that there was a kill-squad en route to that very location while the joke was being told.

That, my friends, is a serious poker face.

So I did a quick googling (the poor man’s Lexis-Nexis) and found this tidbit…the guy does play poker…and does it just like he presides.  BTW, this is dated 9/24/2007, so it’s well before things got real.

Obama was a regular at the low-stakes games — sometimes stud poker, sometimes draw — designed to break up the tedium of long legislative sessions. Poker, beer and cigars were staples; Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers and even the lobbyists who Obama sometimes rails against dealt the cards and placed their bets.

The traits Obama displayed around the card table those many nights are ones he brings to his presidential bid and are certain to be evident — and analyzed — if he wins the White House.

By his poker buddies’ accounts, Obama is careful and focused. He’s not easily distracted and doesn’t give away his intentions unless it’s to his advantage. He’s not prone to taking risky chances, preferring to play it safe. But he’s also serious and competitive: When he plays, he plays to win.

“It’s a fun way for people to relax and share stories and give each other a hard time over friendly competition,” Obama said by e-mail. “In Springfield, it was a way to get to know other senators — including Republicans.”

Obama, then a state senator, was a founding member of the group. He became known as a cautious player with a good poker face, someone who paid more attention to the game than to the chatter and laughter that accompanied it.

Obama studied the odds carefully, friends say. If he had strong cards, he’d play. If he didn’t, he would fold rather than bet good money on the chance the right card would show up when he needed it.

That reputation meant that he often succeeded when he decided to bluff.

“When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand,” said Larry Walsh, a former senator.

More than one lawmaker teased Obama about his careful style of play.

“I always used to kid him that the only fiscally conservative bone in his body I ever saw was at the poker table with his own money,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican from the central Illinois city of Bloomington. “I said if he would be half as conservative with taxpayer dollars, the state would be a lot better off.”

Nice little dig in there at the end, but what you gonna do, it’s politics.   

And we have a master playing it for us.

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