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FTR AMA: Zach Elwood, author of Reading Poker Tells - Feb 21st 5.30pm ET

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  1. #76

    Default Becoming unreadable

    Quote Originally Posted by eugmac View Post
    What are some ways to ensure that you yourself are not displaying any tells? Does a conscious effort need to be made at the table to practice this?
    It definitely takes a conscious effort. Unless you're a robot. I've probably learned the most about tells just studying my own tendencies and trying to figure out why I was doing whatever it was. Similar to improving our own fundamental strategy, it takes honesty and self-awareness to study ourselves.

    For example, next time you are value-betting, try to be conscious of how exactly you are acting. Where are you looking? How fast are you betting? How are you setting your chips down? Are you moving your body much? Are you sitting up straight or slumped? Are you making eye contact with your opponent or avoiding it? Try to remember all these things and compare them to the next time you're making a significant bluff. What has changed and why?

    I think the top-notch players have made very conscious efforts to become unreadable. For me, it takes a very conscious effort.

    The saving grace is that most people, by and large, aren't paying attention to this stuff, so nobody should be getting too stressed out about it. If you're playing pretty high, that's when you should be maybe getting worried about it.
  2. #77

    Default Desert island

    Quote Originally Posted by Pascal View Post
    What 5 items would you have if you got stuck on a desert island?
    Five copies of my book Reading Poker Tells.
  3. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by seven-deuce View Post
    Is it harder to read somebody who's wearing dark-lensed sunglasses?
    Slightly harder. It can obfuscate how someone's eyeballs are moving; whether they're looking around a lot or whether they're still. That's the main way they hide tells to me. I'm not one who pretends they can read pupil dilation tells. Not saying that that's not possible; just never something I've been able to correlate as meaningful.

    But mainly the reason to wear sunglasses is so that other people aren't aware of how much you're studying them. That is the main reason I do it, although I don't often wear them. But I do think they help for that reason alone.
  4. #79
    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Elwood View Post
    I've seen a lot of people ask about the most common or most useful tells. Here are my thoughts on the most useful poker tells:

    Defensive chip handling tells: how people handle their chips when waiting for you to act. Some people who don't want you to bet will subtly hold their chips or just place their hands on their chips in a way that can be interpreted as "defensive", not wanting you to bet. There are many subtle ways that can appear, but it usually is quite useful if you can spot people who do it.
    Funny you mention this, I hold my chips or rattle them when I do not want a person to bet.

    People love to steal my blinds since I am a rock and am in very few hands. Is there any tells you notice on whether a blindstealer has a good hand or if he is just trying to steal my blinds?
    It takes 2 years to learn to talk, but a lifetime to learn when to shut up.
  5. #80
    Why did you write about this topic? Just because I knew I could write a significantly better book than anyone yet written. And because I've always been interested in it, for more than ten years now.

    Do you have a favourite player? No, not really.

    Is there a difference between men and women in regard to poker tells? Haven't noticed one, but that could be just due to not playing many women ever.

    How do you handle tilt? Do you take a break or continue playing? I continue playing, but I wouldn't recommend that. I have leaks...

    Do you play in Las Vegas a lot? No. Only been a handful of times. Plan on getting out there for some action this year though.

    Do you write about other topics besides poker? No, not really. This is my first book. Maybe my only one. I would like to one day write a novel though. And I do have an original sitcom idea and a couple episode scripts if there's an agent reading this.

    Did somebody help you to write this book or did you do it on your own? I did it myself but got my wife, who's a writer, to proofread it and edit it.

    In your opionion, which are the most obvious poker tells and which ones are hard to figure out? See my previous answer about the most useful tells.

    Are you good at bluffing or can your opponents tell easily that you are bluffing? Good bluffing is mainly about choosing your spots very carefully to know when your opponent is likely to perceive your hand range as quite strong and/or when you know your opponent's hand range is likely on the weaker side. Or when you just know your opponent is not one to make big calls without big hands.

    Tells can have an influence in giving you a clue into the fact that your opponent is not comfortable or not wanting to call a bet, but for the most part bluffing should be based on fundamental hand-reading ability and playing styles IMO.
  6. #81
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I like the way you broke up waiting for action and post bet - the two most important categories. When did you decide to organize the book this way?

    I could have sworn Caro or someone said that a player moving his knee up and down might be on a draw. I think he said to be wary if the movement stops on the turn or river card. How do we reconcile this with the quote above? I guess part of it is our definition of anxious and part of it is timing - the quote above is under waiting for action.
    I knew that I needed some situational organization to the book; that was mainly, to me, what was lacking in previous treatments of the subject. I started with the post-bet category, as that was the most important for me personally, and then I added the others as I started working on the book. I think it really helps organize the tells in your head and helps study them.

    I don't know much about that Caro quote. That sounds a little too weirdly specific to be accurate, though. I don't remember reading that in his book. I think it's best to assume what I said until you observe a player doing otherwise. Better yet, you shouldn't assume anything until you've observed a player's tendencies at least a couple times.
  7. #82
    Quote Originally Posted by givememyleg View Post
    In the book you argue with Harrington's view on tells, which is basically that tells are hard to spot, it's hard to know if they're accurate, and only give you a fraction of a percent increase on your winrate. I think your arguments are solid, but if you were able to, what % do you feel being able to spot tells really adds to your winrate?

    Obviously you feel it's substatial enough to write a book on but are you able to actually quantify how much it helps?
    Agree it's hard to quantify. I say in the book that it adds between 10 and 30% to your winrate. That's obviously very rough. For me, personally, I feel it's probably around 20%, but I would have a hard time backing that up with facts. Keep in mind that these %s are only for people who are quite experienced at poker and also experienced at reading people. I don't think many casual players who read my book will meet both of those criteria.

    But I also believe those numbers are potentially higher than what I've estimated if someone is very skilled and playing with regulars who are full of tells.
  8. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by givememyleg View Post
    Do you feel tells can be used in online games? Obviously any physical tells would go unnoticed but what about betting patterns and such?
    I have a fairly short section in the book about bet-timing, which is the only thing that could apply to online. I think it's a tough subject, though, because bet-timing is one of the few areas that are likely to be consciously controlled. So you'll see a lot of variation in it.

    I've recently had some more clear thoughts on bet-timing, though, and think if I were to write my book again today I'd write a better section. Keep an eye on my blog because I want to write about my thoughts on that soon.
  9. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by eberetta1 View Post
    Funny you mention this, I hold my chips or rattle them when I do not want a person to bet.

    People love to steal my blinds since I am a rock and am in very few hands. Is there any tells you notice on whether a blindstealer has a good hand or if he is just trying to steal my blinds?
    People who are stealing blinds in late position often have this tendency:

    Because they are ready to steal blinds before the action gets to them, they are more likely to put in a fairly immediate raise, whereas if they actually had a strong hand, they'd think about it a few seconds, trying to feign weakness. I use this tendency a good amount in late stages of tournaments to make up my decision to 3-bet resteal.

    Keep in mind this won't apply to everyone, nor will it apply 100% to one player. But it can be statistically significant enough, if you've observed it a few times, to make it a good spot to call with a decent hand or 3-bet bluff.
  10. #85
    Will keep this in mind as it is probably my biggest leak. My biggest tell, is when I keep my shaking hands under the table when I have a monster hand.

    Thanks for visiting our forum, and I will try to get in a read of your book.
    My ribs are so sore today, read a book that was sitting in my lap, instead of sitting it up on a table.
    It takes 2 years to learn to talk, but a lifetime to learn when to shut up.
  11. #86
    It looks like all questions have been answered, so unless Zach has anything else to add, this AMA is now closed.

    FTR really appreciates Zach's time here and there is a lot of really solid information in his answers. If you haven't yet, make sure to order a copy of Reading Poker Tells. eBook and Paperback copies are available.

    Thanks again, Zach!

    PS - We will be announcing the winners of the free signed book shortly.
  12. #87
    Congrats to TheLongGrind, rong, and JKDS who have been randomly selected as the winners of the free signed copy of Reading Poker Tells.

    I need all winning parties to PM me their name and shipping address as soon as they can.


    And for everyone else, you can have your own copy for only $9.99 at Zach's website. It's a great read and that's a lot of value for under 10 bucks:
  13. #88
    What most fascinates you in poker? When things are going very badly and is leading with many bad beats what you do?
  14. #89
    JKDS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Chandler, AZ
    Thanks a bunch Zach! This was a pretty informative Q&A, and I cant wait to read your book
  15. #90
    rong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    behind you with an axe
    Winner winner chicken dinner!
    I'm the king of bongo, baby I'm the king of bongo bong.
  16. #91
    Boom, thanks a lot Zach. Your answers are awesome.

    We'll try and get some cliff notes of the answers done etc for all you lazy folk
  17. #92
    Galapogos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    The Loser's Lounge
    Quote Originally Posted by Pascal View Post
    Boom, thanks a lot Zach. Your answers are awesome.

    We'll try and get some cliff notes of the answers done etc for all you lazy folk

    Quote Originally Posted by sauce123
    I don't get why you insist on stacking off with like jack high all the time.
  18. #93
    Vanessa Selbst is always holding her left arm with her right one.
    Do you think she wants to make it impossible to reach automatically to the chips seeing strong hold cards ?
    In my opinion there is another reason too. As this position shows her seemingly interested in the actual hand she is hidding the fact playing more hands than usual without looking lose.
  19. #94
    very good that bok, gl with her..

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