It is common sense to most seasoned live poker players that one’s physical presence and gestures can be very revealing in terms of the type of hands they hold.
Physical poker tells are even known among those who do not play the game of poker, with ‘poker face’ being something most lay people are aware of. It’s a term so well known that it became the title of the song that brought Lady Gaga into mainstream music stardom, although that song had absolutely nothing to do with the game whatsoever.
Many veteran poker players know that the face, while being a highly significant aspect of physical poker tells, is certainly not the only thing a player must worry about when playing a hand.
That is something that appears to have been confirmed by researchers from Tufts University in the US, who said that arms were just as, if not more, important than the face in giving tells. The researchers undertook three different studies where people watched 20 two-second clips of poker players and “rated the hand they were holding based on views of the face or the arms.”
Many of the viewers’ responses based on the facial expressions turned out to be wrong, a sign that the players featured had done their homework and displayed a solid poker face. That was not the case when it came to their arm movements, however, with most of the viewers successfully guessing the type of cards players in the clips were holding.
The researchers behind the exercise said it helped show that movement was an important aspect of giving information at the poker table and, as such, should be looked at by all serious players.
“Even though professional players may be able to regulate their facial expressions, their arm movements could betray the quality of their poker,’’ they said. “So, players’ intentions may be visible from their actions while moving poker chips to place bets.’’
The findings should certainly be interesting to those who play poker, though one should not take this one exercise as gospel. While other articles on this research state that “men and women” viewed the clips, it is unclear exactly how many of them there were, and what their backgrounds were. Those two things could have easily influenced the outcome of the research and how strong those conclusions actually are.
With that said, however, the research does reaffirm something that all serious poker players should know and should focus on – The fact that all physical movements and the like can very easily give other players information that one may not want to give.
Studies like this help show that poker players should not focus on having a good ‘poker face,’ but rather having a good ‘poker body.’