Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm Telling You

I've recently been reading a really good new book on tells.  Reading Poker Tells, by Zachary Ellwood does a great job not only of describing common tell behaviors, but also looking at the emotions that underlie those behaviors.  I think understanding those underlying emotions takes you further down the road towards understanding the basic difference between how a person behaves when they're relaxed as opposed to when they are stressed, and that is a fundamental part of reading people.

Another thing the book has caused me to do is to become more aware of some of my own behavior and the tells I might be giving off.  Now this process requires concentration and a good deal of self awareness.  You've got to be able to pick up the subtle changes in your own behavior, but it's a good exercise.  I want to tell you all about a particular tell I realized I was giving off in the hopes that it will give you a shortcut to making sure you aren't doing the same.

So the scene is the Bellagio and once again I am playing with AVPer turdferguson and his wife, Mrs Turd.  This is a different night from the time discussed in this post, and we're just there getting the last couple of hours the turds need to cover their poker room rate.  The conditions are even more cramped then they were the other night as we were seated at a smaller than usual poker table (a stud table I believe) that is tucked into one of hte back corners of the room.  This wasn't a great table, with only one or two real spots, but we're just getting the time out of the way with the plan to head out to Aria once the Turds have punched their clock.  I've also managed to end up again with TF a couple to my left which is not a great position.  I know that his post flop skills are well above mine and that he's going to have a big advantage over me in any big pots we play.  Between that, the general table conditions and the fact we weren't going to be playing there long I was keeping things pretty snug.

Since this was as much a social event as a money making endeavor I decided to have a cocktail and had ordered a mojito.  As the side of the table I was sitting on was close up against a wall, there was no way to get a side table in there (do they even have side tables at the B?) and so I set my drink on the table, tucked right against the rail and to the right of my stack.  My general practice is to protect my cards in my left hand, check them quickly using both hands to squeeze the cards when the action was just about on me, and then bring my right hand back to cut out chips as needed.  Consistent with trying to manage tells, I've been working on keeping a consistent physical routine when I play a hand.

In the hand in question, I am in the BB and TF opens from early position.  His range here is still pretty wide approximately one astronomical unit wide and because folks have been paying some attention he gets about three callers before it gets back to me.  I look down at QQ which is nice because a three bet here looks a ton like a squeeze and so I think I can get some action from TF with weaker hands.  Post flop can be fun because I'm going to have to be willing to go further with a marginal hand than I might otherwise like to, but I'm ready for that.  I'm calculating how I want to size the reraise and start to bring my right hand around to count out the chips...

Annnnd .... right into the beverage.  At least I managed to direct out into the felt and not where it covered anyone's hands cards or chips.  I was in shock for a moment never having done anything like that before, but went ahead and put out my raise while the dealer called for a towel.  Everyone's cards hit the muck before the towel arrived and I raked in a decent pot just off of everyone's raises.  I certainly didn't maximize value however.

So there it is, the mojito tell of strength.  I know that it's an easy tell to give off without realizing it, so I hope that my experience allows all of you to avoid doing it ... unless of course you are pulling a reverse tell while three betting with junk.