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How to spot a bluffer in poker

No he can't read my poker face

How to spot a bluffer in poker
Danielle de Wolfe
17 February 2011

From an early age we’re told that honesty is the best policy, that the most important thing that you can ever do is tell the truth. But ask yourself, did the person who told you this win millions playing poker? No. Poker proves that there is a time and a place for lying (or bluffing, as they like to call it). To know how to bluff, however, you must first be able to spot when those around you are bluffing (and, of course, when they aren’t).

We spoke to professional poker player Jeff Kimber from the GUKPT ( the most important things to look out for.

Irrational bets

"A lot of people who bluff try to bet quite small because they don’t want to lose too much when they get called, they don’t want the embarrassment of losing a lot of chips. Or they’ll go the other way and they’ll make a really big bet that doesn’t make any sense because if they wanted calling they’re not going to make such a massive bet, so you have to add all these small clues up."

Something to hide?

"There are a few physical things you can spot when someone’s bluffing, and that you can try and hide when you’re bluffing yourself. When someone’s bluffing they will quite often go very, very still because they’re conscious they don’t want to give anything away. They’ll stare at the cards in the middle of the table because having something to concentrate on makes them think they’re not giving any sort of tell away."

Sticky hands

"In terms of putting money into a pot sometimes you’ll see players that almost can’t let go of the chips because subconsciously they know they shouldn’t be doing it. You’ll see chips almost stick to their hand; it’s a really easy thing to spot."

Ignoring your gaze

"Another thing I’d look out for is people covering they’re faces once they’ve put a bet in. When someone’s lying they turn away from you and can’t look you in the eye, it’s similar with poker. When people are bluffing they’ll cover their mouth, cover their face, and not be able to hold eye contact with you."

Sometimes it’s best to let them get away with it

"There’s an old adage ‘a bad fold is better than a bad call’ because a bad fold can cost you a few chips but a bad call can knock you out of a tournament."

Images: Rex