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2009 Caro and Brunson Seminars, Part 2

The Power Poker Seminars at the Rio, presented by Mike Caro and Doyle Brunson continued on June 27. The topic was "Psychology, Tells, and Manipulation."

A Quote. Mike pointed out that once you have learned the basic skills of poker; using psychology against your opponents is the next step to increasing your bankroll. "In poker, psychology is the land where money grows," he said, and I have often watched him use psychology against his opponents with ease and great results.

Another psychological tip he covered was how important it is to watch for tables where players are having a good time, laughing, visiting, and enjoying the game. Those are the tables where you'll profit the most. You want to avoid the quiet, somber tables of conservative players who take poker far too seriously. No merriment there. No profit, either!

Acting or Not. There are two kinds of tells that you need to be aware of: acted and non-acted. Some players go into their acting mode, hoping to fool you. An acted tell happens when a player attempts to make you think he has a strong hand when he's actually holding puny cards or vice versa. A non-acted tell occurs when a player is unaware of what he is doing. An example is someone chewing gum who will cease chewing when he is bluffing. If you make a move to call and he continues to chew, he possesses a strong hand.

Beware! Here are some dangers to watch out for:

Should you witness a player whose hand is suddenly shaking while making a bet, reconsider your actions. This player is not bluffing and not acting. He has a serious hand, is shaking due to a sudden release of tension once a huge hand is recognized. It is not due to any nervousness about bluffing!

If the player that you are involved with is not looking at you, but away from you, watch out! He's waiting to take your money.

Now, if your opponent shrugs or sighs sadly while making a bet, beat a hasty retreat. His cards are anything but miserable. He's acting sad, but he really isn't!

Once again Mike asked for audience participation as he impressed upon them the significance of the sound of a particular tell. That sound, pokerclack, is made beginning with the tongue against the roof of your mouth and it's a sad sound, indicating a strong hand.

The players on your left are capable of inflicting the most damage, so chat amiably with them, buy them a soda, and become their new friend. But it isn't necessary to do any favors for those on your right. In fact, it's permissible to nicely take advantage of them. But remember, you never want to be an unpleasant opponent; that can cost you.

Tidiness. Make it a point to observe your opponents' wagers. If an opponent knocks over the chips he's betting but doesn't tidy them up, he has an impressive hand. So be on guard. You're going to need a truly powerful hand to proceed. Ah, but if a player does try to repair his tumbled chips, he's usually weak or bluffing.

Seeing is Believing. Here are two of my favorite tells that I like to see Mike describe. Suppose the cards have been dealt out and you're observing your opponents before you look at your own cards, as Mike has taught you to do. You notice that an opponent glances at his cards and very quickly places them back on the table. This person has a huge hand! Another opponent carefully raises his cards to peek at them and stares at them as if he's hoping a pair of aces will magically appear. Count him out, he possesses a meager hand.

Stay tuned for Power Poker Seminar Part 3, "50 Best Tip Countdown."

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. Her diverse career spans banking, promoting financial seminars and raising white-tailed deer. Contact her at

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