I never had an interest in gambling until I moved to Vegas. I was living in the suburbs of Chicago and working as a kitchen administrator of a downtown restaurant. I never had time to socialize since job seemed to take up all my time. I was typically too tired from the long days of managing the restaurant. My wife and I were in the process of building a house in brand new development. After our residence was constructed, we made the decision to moved to Vegas. The timing was perfect, there was a housing boom in full force at the time and we bought our 2nd residence at a great price. I moved out ahead of my wife with the aim of finding work in the restaurant business. She was a registered nurse and was guaraaltnteed work at a nearby infirmary. Everything was good, or so I remembered. Still unable to find a job at that point, we both eventually settled in our new home in Vegas and sold our house in Chicago and then, unfortunately ……. we got divorced !!.
I was single and jobless.
I got a few meaningless jobs before I managed to land a position as a poker Poker Dealer at Binion’s Horseshoe during The World Series of Poker. I had a natural love for the game and was intrigued by the probabilities and math to participate in poker. My fascination in the game and my natural intuition enabled me to develop a skill of being able to get good “reads” on people and this, in turn, motivated me to learn all I could about body language and the math behind poker.
I have always had an interest in understanding people. I studied psychology at Middle Tennessee State University in the early 90′ s. I have spent the last 11 years studying body language and facial expressions to better understand people’ personalities. This has taken me down a path I never anticipated and ultimately changed my focus improving my poker game to conducting research into understanding personality and what motivates people.
Poker was originally played by groups of guys getting together for a “friendly” game of cards. Games were held in inconspicuous back chambers, dimly lit, where a call of “all in” could cost you more than the money on the table. There was always the risk of being raided by police, mugged by gunmen or both. It wasn’t until Benny Binion moved poker to the gambling mecca now known as Las Vegas to legitimize it to what we know as poker. Nonetheless, today’s poker is an entirely different game. There is a plethora of information, advice, and statistics available on the internet and at selected casinos.
There are three basic ingredients when it comes to playing poker effectively. The first is to see the numbers behind poker, in other words knowing poker math. Next, is the ability to read someone’s body language. And the third is to understand a person’s personality. In this article, I am hoping to show you how these three interact with one another and how you can improve your ability to read others.
The first part of learning poker is math knowledge. If you are saying to yourself that you are not good at math, that’s ok. With a little logic and common sense, you can understand the fundamentals. That being said, the math never changes. I would look for certain percentages & if they were against me, I would get up from the game and try my luck at another table. I know for example, that I should see a pocket pair once every sixteen hands and suited cards formerly every three to four hands. Advanced players have the skill to calculate the expected value. Without going into too much detail about it, it is basically what you expect to based on statistics which are readily available. It’s a little tricky at first, but practice makes perfect as they say. The key is to not get ahead of yourself. Get the basics down. It won’t take you long. It took me about a few weeks to understand the basics, then I was off to the races. I developed an understanding of basic percentages and EV( expected value), but I was still hungry for more. I felt like something was still missing from my play.
I found that in my ability to read body language.
The knowledge you learn here can help you in every aspect of your life. To this day, as I continue my research and study in body language, I am still in awe of how the information available is not valued enough to be taught in schools. The most important principles in body language are to look at things in context and not by themselves. Some guys say if you really want to know what someone is going to do on a poker table look at their feet. At their feet? Come on, when I am sitting at a poker table, the last thing I am going to is say,” your all in, are you able wait a second, I have to look under the table at your feet before I make a decision.” has to look for other cues, for example, If someone has their arms folded, it usually means they are being defensive. However, if they are sitting under the air conditioner vent and its 60 degrees in the poker room, it could mean they are cold, rather than being defensive – that using body language in context. Facial expressions are particularly important. There are more nerve connections between the psyche and the face than any other part of the body. The poker face is expressionless, motionless but full of information if you know what you are looking for. There are a lot to facial expressions, too many to discuss in this article, but what I can tell you is that your game will drastically improve once you start studying the face and all that it has to offer. Once again stick with the basics, learn to read overall body language, then move to more detailed information in the face.
The third and final ingredient is understanding the personality of the person. Poker, at a basic level, is a game about cards. You play cards, you look at cards, and understand the cards. As you progress and step up your play to higher levels, poker becomes a game of understanding people. It is very important to be able to tell if a person is lying to you. The greatest gift you are able to have is the ability to not only make good statistical decisions, and read body language, but to establish an opponent’s personality by what you see and hear at the table. Personality is generally comprised of five key components. One, the different levels of intellect. Two, their temperament. Third, their skills. Fourth, a person’s ethics or honesty. And finally, five, their attitude. To be able to manage all five attributes takes a rather unique individual. And everyone tends to oscillate in each area.
These are the three basic ingredients when it comes to playing poker effectively.
I will conclude this article with a true-life story.
By 2004 I was a basically full-time student of reading body language and profiling personalities of everyone I met. I could predict how they were going to react based on the things they said and did. It was time to take my chances at the poker table. I had 140 dollars in my checking account and withdrew the money to try my hand at applying my lessons learned to poker. I played for 31 hours straight-out, applied all that I had learned at that point and presto, I made over 30 times my investment !!! ( It worked out to over 100 dollars per hour) and was only able to take home enough money to cover my bills for that month). In later years I continued to build my skills and abilities and now I play professional poker, but I will never forget my initial burst of success.