Friday, November 8, 2013

Poker & Dentistry

Sitting in the Dentist Chair...
by George "The Engineer" Epstein

I was at my dentist's office for extensive dental work. I was sitting in the dentist chair while Dr. Goldy (an excellent dentist, I should add) had his hand in my mouth operating a drill. I felt the need to communicate with him. But, that was barely possible with the drill grinding away while my mouth was immobilized. I made strange guttural sounds, only he could interpret. (That must take lots of dental training and experience.) Then, sitting in that chair, a thought came to mind: "This remind me of using tells at the poker table." So, I decided to share this with you. Thanks to Dr. Goldy and his dentist chair for this column...

As most of you know, a "tell" at the poker table is anything you might do that gives your opponent information about your hand - a body movement ("body language"), a facial expression, eye movement, words you might say, even the tone of your voice. FYI, here's a preview of a section of my new poker-book-in-preparation, The Art of Bluffing (due to be published early 2014).

Tells When Bluffing

When you suspect an opponent is bluffing, it pays to look for tells. It can be very rewarding when your small pair takes the pot away from the brazen bluffer. Here are typical tells to look for if you suspect your opponent is trying to bluff you out of the pot. Give serious thought to calling his bet when you spot any of these tells:
  • Covering his mouth with his hand;
  • Leaning back in his chair,
  • Touching, stroking or rubbing his neck;
  • An apparent departure in his normal behavior, such as speaking more or less often;
  • "Freezing" in his seat, becoming relatively immobile;
  • Taking a deep breath and holding it;
  • Taking a big swallow (gulp!);
  • Licking his lips.

If you look hard enough, you may spot some of these. But must deliberately look for them. It's not likely to happen by accident. Study your opponent carefully.

Of course, the complementary also applies: If you are the one who is doing the bluffing, be sure you steer clear of these tells. (Don't give an opponent an excuse for calling you while you are trying to bluff him out. )

Tells Before the Flop

Note: There are books by experts like Mike Caro and Joe Navarro that provide profound information about many poker tells.

In my opinion, among the most valuable are tells before the flop. I teach my Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group to focus on the opponents seated to their left as they first peek at their holecards. (Look at your own holecards a bit later.) Those are the players who will be betting after you; so the information can be extremely valuable in helping you decide whether to call, fold or raise. For example, a tight player to your left peeks at his holecards as the dealer delivers you that he has a very strong starting hand! Next, you examine your own holecards. You have 9-8 offsuit, a marginal drawing hand that you might have otherwise played had you not seen his tell. So, you fold and save yourself a bunch of chips!

I am sure you can identify still other tells...

Thanks to Dr. Goldy

Perhaps this column has served to help you to be more aware of tells, to try harder to observe-and interpret-them. If so, you can thank my dentist, Dr. Goldy. My guess is that he is much too busy to join us in a game of poker - even with his expertise in interpreting my tells while seated in his dentist chair...

Creating Confident Smiles
416 N. Bedford drive, suite 409
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

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