by JOSH BARNATHAN

Poker is not a game of luck as some amateurs may view it, but rather, a game of mind and skill. The key idea behind any sort of poker game is that a player may only view his or her own cards. This factors in the idea behind poker being a game of cunning and deceit. One of the most underestimated skills in poker is the ability to read body language. These are known as “Poker Tells”, and can often give away exactly what a player is thinking. Being able to read poker tells is most useful in heads up playing, as it is easier to notice exactly what one opposing player is doing, as opposed to worrying about five or six people.

Aside from being able to detect what another player might be thinking, knowledge of body language can also conceal what a player may be thinking. Knowledge of body language good may prove to be a valuable offense, but can definitely be a poker player’s best defense.

Body language is almost 100% subconscious, and even trained professionals can only control about half of these subconscious ticks or signals. For example, while tapping a foot may mean something, pupil dilation may mean another. What this leads to is the idea that even trained professionals can give off poker tells–indicating that it’s a skill that is not to be underestimated.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “professionals probably don’t really give off noticable tells”. And you wouldn’t be too far off from the truth. They do, however, give off tells that if detected for a milisecond can tell a player that his or her hand is better than an opponents. Now that is definitely information I like to know when I play poker.

Overall, body language will never – no matter how skillful be able to tell you that an opponent may have pocket sevens. Sometimes players may give off mixed signals as well, or reveal cards that may be 100% unpredictable at the time. Reading body language, however, definitely gives an edge to the player, and can give valuable advice as to whether to fold, call, or bet in any situation.

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