Joe Navarro answers your questions: Nov. 2009



Does intentionally causing self discomfort hide tells? Like a thumbtack in your shoe to press on? — JASON, VIA ANTE UP FORUM

Jason, in the ’60s there was a movie called The Ipcress File. In that movie a government agent used a nail to cause himself pain to attenuate the effects of a mind control experiment. I don’t recommend it for poker.

You can conceal tells, honest feelings or thoughts, though mimicry of something positive or negative, this is what actors do. You also can try to focus your emotional state on something recent that was pleasant or unpleasant, depending on how you want to present yourself. Your brain will reflect your emotional state. So if you have a rag hand and are bluffing, you could think about something pleasant and that may mask your tells.

You also can practice concealing yourself, just as Phil Hellmuth and others have adopted. Known as the “Navarro Perch,” you basically you put your elbows on the table and rest your chin on your thumbs while covering your mouth. You will be a tough read whether weak or strong.

— Ex-FBI counterintelligence officer Joe Navarro of Tampa specialized in behavioral analysis for 25 years. He’s a star lecturer with the WSOP Academy and has penned Read ’Em and Reap. Email Joe at and he’ll answer your questions.

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