No. 2 You want to look for tells, but you don’t know where to start.

I was speaking to a keen poker player recently, who has been playing a few months & is getting really quite good. They told me that no matter how hard they look, they can’t seem to see any tells or signs, that gives them the information they want to make a decision.

The first thing I said to that player was they were probably looking too hard, & in the wrong places.

If you are on the final table of a partypoker Millions, & the decision could make a six-figure difference to your bank balance, feel free to stare as long & hard at your opponent as you like.

However, if you are playing the Thursday night Pure Freezeout at Dusk Till Dawn (great structure by the way, many of our regular’s favourite tournament of the week), you aren’t going to be very popular if you give your opponent a long stare-down on every decision. Plus, it’s probably not going to help you.

If you want to get that extra information, you need to start way before the hand where you are facing an all-in for your tournament life. One of the keys to reading body language is to establish a baseline. That means observing how players act normally, & comparing that to how they are in the big pot against you. For instance if an opponent is always relaxed & chattering away, & then they look down at their cards preflop, & they freeze & go instantly quiet, they probably haven’t got nine five off suit.

If you can watch how a player acts in a pot that you are not in, & you see their cards at the end of it, that’s good information. If they had a very good hand, & they were leaning back on their chair in a relaxed fashion, drinking their latte, you can start to draw some conclusions about how they act when they are strong. Half an hour later, the same player is in a pot with you, & they are sat rock still with their hands covering their mouth, what does that tell you? Well nothing is certain, but you can start to think that the way they feel about this hand is different to how they felt in the hand you watched before.

If you a looking for a small edge over your opponents, the information is out there.

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