Joe Navarro answers your poker tells questions: July 2010



How can I work on minimizing my tells? Is it just a matter of mentally being aware of them or are there exercises I can practice? Juan Rodriguez, Miami

Juan that’s a profound question because it’s not that easy. I’m very aware of my tells and yet most of the time I can’t control them as my wife will tell you. Most of us can’t.

If I asked you what are the dimensions of your lips right now, you would not be able to answer. And yet someone playing across from you would and that’s relevant because the thickness of our lips (volume) is controlled by blood flow regulated by whether we’re content or stressed. When we’re stressed the lips tend to get very thin and disappear. So if we don’t know what we look like what can we do? Hide.

I’m sure you’ve seen what has come to be known as the “Navarro Perch,” named by a student at one of the WSOP Academy clasesss. This is where you perch your chin on your thumbs and cover your mouth with your hands close together, elbows on the table. This is being used by Phil Hellmuth and many others as the best way to hide in the open. The less you move or are seen at the table, you’ll virtually disappear if there’s nothing for other players to see.

— 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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