Playing poker, or any card game for that matter, against others can be a fun and sometimes financially rewarding experience. Besides knowing the ins and outs of the game, what if you could tell when other players were bluffing and whether or not they had a good hand, without cheating? These simple tips about body language can help you do just that — and help stack the chips in your favor no matter what your game.
The eyes – we’ve all heard the saying “the eyes are the window to the soul.” They’re also a good window into the state of another player’s cards. (This is probably why many professional poker players wear shades.) Averting or blocking one’s eyes usually always means crummy cards. Lowered eyelids or eyebrows can also mean a crappy hand.

Pupils will grow with good news and shrink with bad news. This is something even a professional player can’t control, which is another reason many players wear hats or shades.

The mouth – be wary of people giving a half smile — this is quite common during a bluff. Licking the lips or pressing them together may mean someone is contemplating what to do, as in, the cards aren’t so hot.

The hands – our extremeties react quickly to danger, freezing in place. So if someone’s fingers go unnaturally motionless, they’re probably bluffing. Shakiness while betting indicates a strong hand, because the brain, excited about great news, pumps the body full of adrenaline. A “finger steeple” (a typical thing one might expect more from a boss in the boardroom than a poker player) means the hand is so good the player is trying to keep it to himself.

Posture – If one of your opponents suddenly leans away from the table or his posture droops, be prepared for anything. He could be about to make an aggressive bet. A great hand such as a royal flush could make even a professional jump up in his/her seat. Suddenly sitting up straight or jutting forward also indicate good hands.

The chips – a player with a strong hand will push their chips into the pot with intent and force, never begrudgingly. A good bluffer might do this as well though. An experienced player may fiddle with his chips to intimidate others.

The chin – no one has to tell anyone to keep their chin up when they have great cards. A raised chin is a sign of confidence, which means great cards. Likewise the opposite is true.

Joe Navarro of the World Series of Poker Academy has been studying the body language of lies for some time and provides tips in an online column.

About The Author

Erik Allaire is a master poker player who has won many professional poker events, wishes to represent his country at the world level.

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