Poker Tells

To some, poker is a random game. But for those who want to generate substantial “sums”, a way to win is to pay close attention to the opponent’s every move.

It is certainly true that playing on a hunch can give a win. Sometimes. But for those of our readers who simply do not think “sometimes” is enough, we have dug deep into the archives and found one of the very first volumes to explore the correlation between gambling and body language: Caro’s Book of Poker Tells from 1984 by Mike Caro.

Caro’s work emphasizes the importance of recognizing “telling” gestures of poker players. This might seem like common knowledge nowadays, but in fact, the subject was not properly explored until Mike Caro unveiled some tips and trick many poker players still play by today. We have decided to give a quick recap of a few of the most renowned “Caro theories”:

The law of strange behaviour

With this expression, Caro aims to explain why players often behave irrationally. When we play poker our every decision is often based on incomplete information, and besides this, we have to account for nerves coming into play. These two factors create a mixture of conflicting individual solutions which Caro describes as “strange behaviour”. In order to decipher this “strange behaviour”, Caro urges us to try and read a player through the practice of observation. Only then, we have the power of foreseeing patterns of behaviour.

Typical poker tells

Weak means strong and strong means weak

The theory is based on the assumption that a player will most likely behave in the opposite way of his or her intentions. Apparently, one of the most reliable “tell” that amateur players give off is acting aggressively. For instance, an aggressive move can be when a player noticeably reaches for his chips as if to prove a point.

Caro further enhances the “weak means strong…” theory by stating that the more confused, frightened, or indifferent a player looks, the more one can be sure that he or she wants one to participate in the bank. Another gesture which Caro mentions is glancing at one’s cards. According to Caro, this means that the player in question desperately wants to make a bid even though his turn has not reached yet.

We can absolutely not vouch for any of the above “tells” to be accurate, because they could, in fact, mean the complete opposite. This problematic issue is elaborated in the following theory:

The theory of randomness and unintentional gestures

To really have an understanding of how “poker tells” work requires a deep grip of psychology.  In the “theory of randomness…”, Caro warns us about players who don’t try to act but who’s every nervous tick or displacement of cards are unintentional gestures and no tricks at all. These players are the hardest nuts to crack.

Every player will have their own particular “tells”, be so sure. The art is to recognize them.  

If body language “tells” is an interest, it’s highly recommended to study the matter further. With the power of observation in a combination with a good hunch, people are usually much closer to a win than if they stick to the plain guessing game.

Not the reading type?

As true as it is that every player has their own “tells”, they will also have their own unique betting patterns. Recognising betting patterns is actually the greatest giveaway for poker players, as a deciphered betting pattern reveals the opponent’s strategy, and so it is an utmost advantage in the game of poker.

Regardless of whatever tactics are chosen, the only way to become a better poker player is to play, play, play. Nowadays we don’t even have to worry about body language or “tells” if we prefer not to, since we can always choose to play at online casinos from the comfort of our screen, anytime, and anywhere we want…


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