If I was betting following her in a game of poker, I’d likely be able to bet very large to get her to fold due to the fact that I’m seeing an honest stress. It should be apparent that she is torn on what to do. Meaning, a strong push in one way or the other by you will give the results you want! The pacifying behavior could have easily been one of many things such as rubbing the fingers, stroking the hair or holding the chest.
Another side to tells are the signs of guilt. Again, in life, business or poker, signs of guilt reveal themselves subconsciously. In this picture, notice the fingers curled over the mouth.
I have spoken to many business people about body language in sales and it is amazing how similar poker is. For instance, when I first shake someone’s hand in business, I look for certain behaviors. Does the person squeeze unnecessarily hard? Do they turn my hand up so they have the upper hand? Do they decide when we let go? These are all simple behaviors that let me know that the person has a dominating, aggressive type personality. Knowing this ahead of a poker hand or sales opportunity truly gives me the upper hand! If I was playing poker with this person and was on the fence about a move, I just might decide to bet knowing that they are cocky and bully their way through life. Isn’t it amazing how one’s behaviors in life will reveal itself on the battle field of a poker table?
Let me leave you with one more real world example of a very strong tell. All the acting in the world often leave the feet telling the truth. That’s right, the feet! Profiler experts use this type of tell to get to the truth in crimes because the feet never lie. Specific to poker, the general idea is that a person with a confident hand will have feet that shift forward (a subconscious sign of strength). A person with a weak hand will shift their feet back in retreat even though they may look and act strong otherwise. Notice the girls legs have pulled back (assuming they were in a normal position prior to the introduced stress) which clearly shows a string sign of weakness and retreat.
Again, it is important to point out that you need to have noticed if the feet were positioned differently before a particular introduction of stimulus. If, as in this example, the feet where shifted back the entire game, then it means very little about a weak or strong hand. However, you might know that, in general, this person is in a constant state of retreat and might be easily bullied at the poker table.
Tells are powerful in tough situations if you pay attention to the details. Beware of those who like to act out those subconscious tells. You can tell the difference because acting comes after the fact and tells that are truly subconscious happen the instant some stimulus or stress is introduced. You are really interested in those short, honest moments when someone is first introduced to a thought. What comes next is acting. An interesting phenomenon to me is the fact that obvious acting reveals something too. If you have nothing else to go on, just do the opposite of what they are trying to convince you of.
I’ve used real world examples to reveal that poker is not a unique place for tells. Rather, it’s a place that has many opportunities to observe a lot in a short time. I’ve spoken at business meetings about handshake meanings, traveled around the world with Full Tilt Poker sharing tells and lectured to magicians about psychology. In every case, it truly comes down to one simple word. Shifts. If you can watch for shifts in behavior, you will see another level of non-verbal communication that’s been staring you right in the face for years. Good luck shifting your observation and shifting some money from their side of the table to yours!