Wednesday, December 17, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Rock doc: The science of detecting bluffs

By
October 26, 2013 |

Experienced poker players know the basic odds of drawing the card they need to build a better hand. They also are good at estimating if their hand is likely to be better than those of the other players around the table. In other words, probability and statistics are built into the game of poker.

Proficient poker players are also good at a more human-based skill. They spend time and effort trying to read the faces of their opponents. The goal is to deduce whether other players hold strong or weak hands based on the way their faces look as they play. That element of poker isn’t based on statistics so much as on practical psychology.
As the famous Kenny Rogers song about gambling says, “Son, I’ve made a life/Out of reading people’s faces/Knowing what the cards were/By the way they held their eyes.”
A good poker player develops a “poker face” that minimizes how much his or her visage betrays the cards in play. That fact has been known as long as people have been betting on card games. But now there’s evidence recently discussed at the ScienceNews Website that having a good poker face isn’t enough. It seems card players need to develop “poker arms” as well. Here’s the scoop – one that you may find useful in your next card game.
Psychology researchers at Tufts University acquired video of high-ranking poker players playing cards and making bets at the World Series of Poker. The researchers then had 78 college students try to predict whether the players had good or strong hands based on the way they looked.
First the students were shown video of the players’ upper bodies and faces. The students had no luck predicting the players’ hands based on that aspect of the video record. That’s just a long way of saying that the high-ranking poker players really did have “poker faces.”
Next, the researchers had the students study video of the players’ arms as the players placed bets on the tables in front of them. Using just that information, the students were often able to predict which players held strong hands versus which had weak ones. Those with good cards seemed to move their arms more smoothly compared to those with poor cards who were bluffing as they placed their bets. The bluffers appeared to have more awkward arm movements.
One thing I find quite impressive about that result is that the college students studying the video were not professional poker players. They may have played the odd hand of poker in their lives, but they were not experts. Nonetheless, these comparative novices could — on average — make a pretty good guess as to whether folks in the World Series of Poker in fact held good hands or not.
If the results of the Tufts study hold up, we’ll need to update the Kenny Rogers song. It’s not just the way poker players hold their eyes that can betray them, but the way they push their chips across the table.
Good luck with your next hand of cards.
Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

Comments

Subscription Required

Thank you for reading the MtDemocrat.com digital edition. In order to continue reading this story please choose one of the following options.

Current Subscribers
If you are a current subscriber and wish to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com, please select the Subscriber Verification option below. If you already have a login, please select "Login" at the lower right corner of this box.

Subscriber Verification

Special Introductory Offer
For a short time we will be offering a discount to those who call us in order to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your print subscription. Our customer support team will be standing by Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to assist you.

Call and Save! (530) 344-5000

If you are not a current subscriber and wish not to take advantage of our special introductory offer, please select the $12 monthly option below to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your online subscription

Help?

E. Kirsten Peters

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    News

    Grand Jury: King Fire suspect indicted

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Stormproofing the watershed after King Fire

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Esmeralda Tunnel repairs continue

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Harris’ murder trial pushed back

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Law enforcement cracking down on holiday drunk driving

    By Placerville Police | From Page: A3

     
    EDUHSD board members sworn in

    By News Release | From Page: A6

    School boundary complaints voiced at board meeting

    By Julie Samrick | From Page: A11

     
    Sanford adds attorney

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A12

    Giant Hanukkah menorah lit in Placerville

    By News Release | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    UMHS briefly locked down

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A12

    .

    Opinion

     
    Restoring salary cuts should lead to more cuts

    By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

    My turn: Holidays, stress and fitness

    By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Letters

    0 ≠ 0

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    Altshuler’s delusions

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    Plastic bags

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    That arrogant man

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    ‘Life as I know it’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    Wine in the Vines

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    .

    Sports

    Sabrina Tate overcomes physical setbacks

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Optimist All Stars play tomorrow

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8

    Sports Scene: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

     
    Lady D’backs fall to Laguna Creek

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A8

    Roundup: Two Trojan titles; two MVPs

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Prospecting

    New game plays in Old West

    By Pat Lakey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Local photographers create postcards

    By Julie Samrick | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Placerville Friends of Tibet present film

    By Tripp Mikich | From Page: B2

     
    At a glance: Hello winter

    By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

    Golden Sierra grad hopes to release film

    By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    CASA receives important gift from Wells Fargo

    By Court Appointed Special Advocate | From Page: B3

    El Dorado County libraries offer many programs

    By El Dorado | From Page: B3

     
    Grow For It! Citrus Basics

    By Debbie Hager | From Page: B5

    Life as I know it: New and moving experiences

    By Robert F. Boggus | From Page: B5

     
    Sierra Repertory presents play

    By Sierra Repertory | From Page: B7

    .

    Essentials

    Weather stats

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

     
    Building permits 12/8-12/2014

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

    Crime Log: Nov. 20-22

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Real Estate

    .

    Comics

    New York Times Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

     
    Long Story Short

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Flying McCoys

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

     
    Speed Bump

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Tundra

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

     
    Horoscope, Thursday, December 18, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Horoscope, Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

     
    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Shoe

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

     
    Sudoku

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Rubes

    By Contributor | From Page: A10