Mike Caro’s Book of Poker Tells in 2011: What tells can still be spotted?

Since Mike Caro published his groundbreaking book on poker tells, a lot has changed in the world of poker.

Tells from actors

Before the poker boom, tables were filled with tells from “actors”, as described in Mike Caro’s excellent book. Players would sigh when strong, stare down when weak and act a lot at the table in an attempt to fool you. In the past years, players have become a lot smarter, and most serious players have either read Mike Caro’s book or at the very least heard about the classic “Weak means Strong and Strong means Weak”. That means that tell from actors are a lot rarer than they used to be.

Poker Tells in 2011

So as much as Mike Caro’s book was awesome 15 years ago, you have to study non-verbal communication as a whole to really become a great poker tells reader. The tells we teach at www.tellskitchen.com are based on science, and can be displayed in any social situations. Especially those situations when the stakes are high, an intense stress level and someone has a lot to lose, such as a job interview, a sales pitch or even a date. Of course, poker is perfect for exhibiting these non-verbals, since usually the stress level can be important, especially in big pots or at the end of a tournament.

So let’s look at three types of tells, which are reactive tells, pacifying gestures, and facial expressions. This is almost a primer to what you can learn from our videos at TellsKitchen.

Reaction tells

These tells come after we experience something (we like or don’t like). Something happens, and we react a certain way because of it. Either it creates positive feelings or negative feelings. And either way, our body language will reveal how we feel. These can include distancing tells (hand and torso) and barrier tells.

Pacifying Gestures

The second type of tells we see a lot at the table are what are called pacifying gestures (also called adaptors and manipulators in scientific studies). We make these gestures to soothe ourselves, to calm us down when we are stressed or anxious, Think of a massage, and how it relaxes us and puts us in a calm state of mind. These gestures usually involve some sort of self-touching such as pressing, scratching, rubbing, stroking and biting. So we’ll see things like rubbing the back of the neck, exhaling and biting our lips.

Facial and Micro-Expressions

Micro-expressions are displays of repressed emotions. They usually last 1/5 a second and can be as quick as 1/25 of a second. For an astute observer, it will thus reveal one’s true state of mind. In situations where we’d rather not reveal our true emotions, like at the poker table, micro-expressions will most likely leak out. And most importantly, people usually do not have a clue that they just flashed an emotion.

At the poker table, the emotions you will see the most are disgust and contempt. Surprise and anger can be spotted from time to time, with fear, sadness and happiness being a rarer occurrence.

Is Mike Caro’s book still accurate?

Yes it is, but since almost half the book discusses poker tells from actors, studying our videos will most likely earn you edge you really seek. By all means buy Mike Caro’s book on poker tells, but I believe our training videos are the best way to really understand tells, and give you the best tools to hone your skills so you can become a great tells decoder.

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