Joe Navarro answers your questions: Dec. 2009



I play a lot of online poker, but rarely get a chance to play live. How can I focus my skill at reading tells while away from the table?

You ask a very good question that a lot of people wonder about. There are two things you can do.

One is watch a lot of poker videos and look for tells that I have talked about in Read ’em and Reap or in What Every Body is Saying. Let the books serve as a guide to you as to what to look for. Make a list of things to look for in the face, hands, chest, eyes and so forth and then see if you can spot them. But have something to guide you. Mike Caro’s Book of Poker Tells, also is excellent and proven.

Secondly, go to a casino and watch a table or two for a couple of hours and see, for free, what tells you can pick up. I was just in Vegas and spent two hours at the Bellagio and two hours at Ceasars studying the table and you know what, at each I picked up new tells. Observation and decoding of tells is a skill, you have to work at it, and it is perishable.

— 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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