Someone told me something astonishing two days ago:

I used to be playing a clairvoyant, where my job was to guess what card the person sitting in front of me holds, without looking at this card. I got quite good at this, my answers were usually correct. Of course, there was nothing supernatural here: all it took was to observe my opponent carefully. Mimics, microgestures, where does this person look at any given moment are everything. The amount of information people are telegraphing this way is astonishing.

I tried my luck in poker and once again careful observation of my opponents proved to be my most important skill. Indeed, I soon stopped looking at my hand at all! This was not only out of arrogance: if I did not know my hand I knew I could not telegraph it to other players the same way they were telegraphing theirs to me. On the other hand, I knew perfectly well whose hand was good, whose hand was bad, who was bluffing and who was not - and this was enough for me to play well.

I admit, though, that I was only playing against amateurs; I suppose professional poker players actually do keep their pokerfaces and I wouldn't be able to gain that much information just by observing them!

Wow. Just wow. Of course I knew non-verbal communication existed, but this...?

How to avoid giving subconsciously that much information to other players? How do proffessional poker players avoid this?

  • 2
    Let me be very clear, yes there are a very small amount of people who can pick up on body language and interrupt that relatively accurately with a decent degree of success. Then the more realistic situation is people who think they can, who will use that as their logic, ignore the times they are wrong (which will be most) and then say those stupid things like I knew ya had that because of the way you smiled or insert something else that's stupid. My point here is don't worry about avoiding small non-verbal communications, we all do them, and most cannot or will read them wrong.
    – Grinch91
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 13:42
  • You want something to focus on to not give as much information away, learn poker fundamentals, play a solid game, understand how ranges work and then balance your range. That's just my opinion on this, I think it's a waste of time to focus on, especially considering people have much bigger leaks in their games than a slight smile giving away information. As long as you're not turning your cards over, or straight up celebrating when you hit your card, don't worry about this. If you're very concerned about it, wear a hat, a pair of sunglasses or a scarf, or all of them.
    – Grinch91
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


I soon stopped looking at my hand at all! This was not only out of arrogance: if I did not know my hand I knew I could not telegraph it to other players the same way they were telegraphing theirs to me.

Here is where you know it's bullshit. Even though observation is a powerful weapon, you can't win at poker without looking at your own hand

You'd be surprised by how calm you can become at the table just by knowing you are doing the correct play (regardless of whether you are value-betting or bluffing). So understanding the game of poker and treating it as a game of skill is the most important step towards not being so revealing. Sure, experience and sunglasses do help.

Also, please be aware that what constitutes a strong/weak hand, what your opponent thinks to be a strong/weak hand and what actually is a strong/weak hand may be completely different things, so not only you need to get the "tells" right, but also interpret them correctly and in a useful way

  • 2
    If I could give you more than +1 I would. Completely agree. I really liked that you mentioned how people perceive a strong/weak hand maybe different to how you do yourself. Very nice answer.
    – Grinch91
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 10:20
  • @Grinch91 thank you for your kind words
    – David
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 15:46

TLDR Routine and cover.

Develop routines how you do certain things, e.g. which hand puts the chips in, how you put back your cards, how/when you secure them with a chip (or something else). I also recommend to not talk during a hand, because you voice might be a big indicator.

You can also cover up, your most important parts of your body, which might give away information (eyes, mouth, throat). For your eyes, you can take sonme shades (must not be to dark). For the mouth, you can use your hand (always the same!), a scarf, a hoodie or something similar. Scarf and hoodie are also good for your throat. You should also watch, how you sit (lay back, leaning forward..).

This is just about the body tells, more important are your betting patterns.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.