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Forget poker faces - watch those arms

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If poker is all about the tells and everyone knows that its all about the tells, then surely the essence of professionalism is to detect the tells in someone who has mastered the art of not showing them.

‘Poker face’ is so ingrained in the lexicon both of poker and of the wider English language that any half decent player worth his salt will have dedicated years to mastering control of his facial expressions and his facial muscles. Or hers of course! So, where does the predatory player go from there in a bid to detect the telltale signs of confidence, bluff, deceit or fear? The short answer is anywhere and everywhere on the body, and new research shows that the arms may prove highly significant.

Researchers from Tufts University in the US have declared that arms were just as, if not more, important than the face in giving tells.

"Even though professional players may be able to regulate their facial expressions, their arm movements could betray the quality of their poker hand,'' they wrote in the journal Psychological Science.

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, evidence that the poker faces were having the desired effect. When looking solely at arm movements however, most of the viewers successfully guessed the type of cards players in the clips were holding. The relevance of arms to the betrayal of emotion was reflected in all three studies, raising fresh questions in the minds of even the most seasoned professionals.

“So, players’ intentions may be visible from their actions while moving poker chips to place bets,’’ said the study.

So watch those telltale fingers !

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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