Using Tells To Your Advantage

It is generally believed that some nonverbal cues can provide gamblers with actionable hints in casino games. This is usually about the value of a card.

The concept of these cues is common in games where the rules necessitate the use of cards dealt face down. Usually, the value of these down-facing cards (or hold cards) is only known by the dealer or the hand holder.

Everyone else only gets to find out the value of this hold cards later in the game. As a result, games requiring the use of hold cards usually create so much uncertainty. This pushes the player to act based on probability estimates until the hand's values are disclosed to everyone.

However, gamblers are always trying to get past these limitations. This is where the concept of tells comes in.

What are Tells?

Tells is based on the concept that our body language can betray us leading us to unknowingly disclose actionable information that other gamblers can use against us during a game.

How Realistic and Accurate are Tells

Some people claim to read others like open books, detecting useful patterns in what they say and how they act.

This kind of skills could come in quite handy in games like poker. This is a game where decisions are made based on probability rather than hard facts.

People who allegedly have such skills can deduce whether a player has a strong or weak hand. This is possible solely by observing body language or nonverbal cues. Possessing such skills can also help a gambler detect when another player is merely bluffing during gameplay.

However, in as much as a lot of people claim to have such skills, recent studies point to the fact that most people aren't able to detect when people are lying.

Tells: What Does The Study Say?

The study also suggests that lying as an act isn't so outwardly obvious. In recent times, psychologists have used experimental research to expose the unreliability of erstwhile trusted cues. For instance, it is commonly believed that when someone is lying, they'd usually avoid eye contact.

However, a study on footage from courtroom sessions indicates that even people who are lying gaze directly at who they're talking to and maintain eye contact. Another research on a similar topic revealed that individuals who knowingly give wrong information about something are less likely to display the cues commonly linked to lying. Part of the reason is that liars know that observers can easily detect cues associated with lying if they're being observed. Hence, they align themselves with behaviors that wouldn't be associated with lying.

Context May Change Things

Another reason for the unreliability of cues is context. A lot of the unconscious gestures that people make could mean different things in different situations.

In one situation, a certain cue could mean that an individual is lying. And in a different situation, it could just be an indication of stress or being uncomfortable. An example of situational gestures is cross-hand gestures.

Depending on the circumstances, it could either mean an individual is feeling cold, or he or she is taking a defensive position. Gestures and cues usually have vast grey areas that are open to several interpretations.

Considering this, trying to use popular gestures and cues to predict a gambler's move may be a wrong idea. Studying them well and later looking out for inconsistencies may be a better idea.


Ben Williams

Content Writer

Ben grew up in a small beach town on the Coromandel Peninsula. He spent most of his childhood surfing and playing rugby. After graduating from university in Auckland, he moved to Australia to work for a startup. He returned to New Zealand a few years later and started working in the iGaming industry.

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