Ahhh tells, a poker players best friend and worst nightmare.
In my earlier article I wrote a very small piece about ‘tells’ in game. A lot of people who read that article wanted to hear more about that part, so here’s an in-depth expansion for you.
‘Tells’ are little mannerisms that show a person’s true intent and feelings.It is very important to realize that tells are beyond the conscious control of the person who displays them. This is why they offer such a powerful insight into their true intention.
As you can imagine, some poker players actually train themselves to display tells that are designed to deceive opponents. In game it’s much easier. Have you ever seen a girl that was fiddling with her hair when you were talking to her? Classic tell! She’s interested! No girl in the world will actually train doing this in front of a mirror to feign attraction (OK, there is probably ONE girl somewhere, especially after reading this article).
While classic, a girl playing with her hair is not the best tell. Girls fiddle with their hair for all kinds of reasons, some even do it as default behavior while talking to anyone. You see it a lot but in isolation it isn’t very reliable for saying something about attraction.
In this article I’ll discuss my top three tells that I’ve observed in the field that are exceptional in both reliability and frequency displayed. I’ll focus on what tells are useful in gauging if she is up for a same night lay, but you can use these tells in slower game as well.
1. Who is most important right now?
The one thing that is very important in getting a SNL is her willingness to accept your lead. Watch what happens when you’re logistically escalating her. Does she tell her friends every time you move, does she glance over to them? Or doesn’t she care about them at all as it seems?
The moment you start to become more important than her friends when moving is a very important tipping point. It shows her willingness to trust you to take her anywhere, and she’ll be safe. This is a must-have for a SNL.
There is a tell specifically for this. Watch her eyes the moment the second you propose a move. Does she glance in the general direction of her friends? There is a good chance you need to do some more work. Does she keep looking at you, or in the direction of the proposed move? Good job, she’s probably ready for a bounce without her friends!
This can happen very, very quickly. I always logistically escalate right after the opener if I’m on a dance floor, and I always check for this. I’ve had girls display this tell within 10 seconds of opening them.
The one time this doesn’t count is when you’re logistically escalating her out of the venue. She’ll consciously reason that she should let her friends know where she is, so she will not display this tell. The fact that she is coming with you alone says enough.
2. Feet don’t lie
Almost everyone learns to lie in their lives. Your face learns to lie extremely well. Only very few people can tell if someone is lying, just by looking at their face. When looking at the body as a whole it’s a little easier. The further you go down the body, the more trustworthy tells become. This is because most people are less consciously aware of their body, the lower you get.
In poker, feet and leg position and movements are the most powerful tells there are. Yet almost no one knows this. One tell known as “happy feet” (a term that was there before the movie), has proved particularly profitable to me personally. It’s when a player hops, dances or moves around with his feet continually.
At a Poker Tournament final I played in Paris, France a few years ago one of my opponents was displaying this tell every single time he would call if someone moved all-in on him. This meant when he didn’t have ‘happy feet’, he probably had a bad hand. This made poker very easy for me. If he didn’t move his feet around1, I could bluff him out of the pot and take his chips. If he did, I’d get out of the way. I didn’t even need to look at my own cards, they didn’t matter. Needless to say, I won the tournament.
I have seen happy feet in-field when gaming, but I feel this tell is a bit genetically predisposed. Men display it a lot more than women2. Since 90% of pokerplayers are men, it’s much more a poker tell, than a game-tell.
Feet do more though, and a lot of it is useful in game. Most importantly they tell what people really like. If you’re standing and her feet are facing you, but she’s giving you a hard time, you can count on the hard time being over soon, she’s just testing you.
I saw this a lot some time ago when I just learned to open direct. After some practice my opening was going well, but my 2-sets were lagging behind a bit. The target usually got at least a bit interested right from the opener, but the object/extra girl was pretty closed and skeptical about me sometimes. I found a good solution on the lounge pretty fast: giving the object some attention. But I still had trouble calibrating it.
After thinking about it and trying some stuff in-field I discovered that the degree of how far along you are towards her accepting you is proportional to the degree the angle her feet make with your feet. Said easier: When feet point towards you, this signifies interest. When they point away, it signifies disinterest. This is true pretty much regardless of what else she does.
A picture of some feet:
In pink the target, black is the guy entering the set (with relaxed body language, leaning on one leg) and red is the obstacle. The top left is the set before entering, the top right the position I ended up in a lot. The bottom is ideal and shows the entering guy has done enough to at least earn some time to speak.
One of the big advantages is that you do not have to look for this tell in a split second. It’ll be out there for everyone to see.
3. Play mirror.
The last tell in this article is a bit more common knowledge than the other two.
In poker it’s very helpful to “make friends” with the people around you, and form an us-against-the-guys-on-the-other-side-of-the-table mindset. I always try to be a leader in doing this, because I know how much it helps if your bluffs don’t get raised. One way I always measure this is by using a very old trick: look for people who have the same body position as me. Then change my body position a little and see if they follow along. When they do, I’ll learn two things. Firstly they are comfortable with me as a leader. Secondly, they’re not 100% sharp right now, they’re playing their cards, not the people.
This. Is. A. Definite. Green. Light!
You’d better be escalating, if you’re not already, you’re late!
As you can see. Tells are common and very useful in game. Bear in mind that not all girls will display them all the time. For instance, your target might be completely open to escalation, but she’ll not mirror you body position, or completely turn into you with her feet, or forget about her friends.
We say to assume a green light. Use these tells to confirm that, don’t think of the absence of a certain tell as a red light. This is very important. In other words: Tells are there to help you move your set along, never an excuse to hold back.
Let me leave you with a quote about pokertells from one of my favorite movies. It’s of course very Hollywood, but nonetheless very awesome. And still not far from the truth.
They wear their tells like signs around their necks. Facial tics, nervous fingers. A hand over a mouth. The way a cigarette is smoked. Little unconscious gestures that reveal the cards in their hands. We catch everything. If a fish acts strong, he’s bluffing. If he acts meek, he’s got a hand. It’s that simple. -Mike McDermott in the movie Rounders.
Check out the “get better at dating” section of my site for coaching options. You’ll learn about this stuff, and a LOT more!
2This is mainly because women have been taught how to sit “properly”. At some point they consciously learned to sit in a certain way (legs close together or legs crossed). So sitting leg and feet tells are a lot less useful in girls, even in poker.