READING BODY LANGUAGE IN POKER
Fie, fie upon her!
There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,
Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out
At every joint and motive of her body.
- William Shakespeare
Body language is a part of nonverbal language. It includes things like stance, gestures, facial expressions, and even small things that are barely perceptible like a brief shrug of the shoulder or nod of the head. We frequently communicate both bodily and verbally and an estimated 70% of what we communicate may be nonverbal. There have been hundreds of books on body language but not many in poker. So this is a small attempt to put information that I have learnt while learning to read people at a poker table. I started by straight away applying the basic body language reads to a poker table like when a person leans in; it is sign of confidence, hence it translated that the player most likely has good cards. Another classic example is when a person rubs his hands after seeing his cards; this is sign that he is so excited to see the card that he can’t wait to play their cards. In short, a poker table is much like real world scenarios like class room, office, college, etc. When a player at a poker table gives away body language information, it is called a tell. So reading a player for tells is crucial for poker player’s game. Below is the order in which I read people at a poker table: 1. Feet and Legs (Most reliable)
2. Arms and Hands
5. Pacifying Behaviours (Least Reliable)
This is the most honest part of the body and can give loads of information. Most people while reading a person start from the top and scan towards the bottom. But believe me the other way round works much better and is far more reliable. Most people go to great lengths to hide what is on their faces but rarely do they focus on their legs. Legs carry so much information that it is relied upon by most pros and ignored by most amateurs in poker. Below are some of the common tells that you can spot at a poker table: * If a person has pointed his feet forward and after he receives his cards turns it away, it is clear sign of disengagement and he no longer wants to be involved in the hand. * If a person is constantly wiggling and bouncing his legs and then suddenly stops and pays attention, this is a sign that the person is about to bluff. * If a person’s feet go from flat to raised position – resting feet flat to raised heels/toes forward means that the person is ready to act. * When a person interlocks his feet, this is sign of nervousness. This means that the person is holding weak or marginal cards. * A variation of the above is after a person bets (a big bet) he wraps his legs around the legs of the chairs or table, it may suggest that he is bluffing. They are restraining themselves because they think other will detect his bluff. * When a player moves his feet positioned in front of his chair to under the chair indicates signs of weakness or bluffing.
Let’s Get Our Hands Dirty
Hands are an intimate part of poker. They are constantly moving and interacting with the chips and cards on the table, and sometimes even with players. Hands can reveal a lot of information. * Interlacing fingers behind the head is a very strong sign that the player is confident. So if you deciding to bluff don’t try it on this player. * When a player does a hand steeple, this is also another high confidence tell. * Interlacing of fingers and hand wringing is a sign of low confidence. * When a person looks at his cards and his hands tremble or reaching for chips and his hands are trembling, is a sign that he has great cards or as in poker we call it monsters. His hands got scared of the monster!
Lips Don’t Lie
Mouth are a great reading tool for tells in poker but as you come from the feet to the face, the tells get that much less reliable because players will be a lot more...
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