Monday, September 1, 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

.

News

‘Cody just vanished’: Parents of missing man still hopeful

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Heard over the back fence: Posse fundraiser Sept. 6

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

County moves to privatize mental health facility operations

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
City Council: Candidate forced to change statement

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

 
City bike and trail projects move ahead

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A3

 
Six indicted on meth, heroin trafficking

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

Cameron Park burglar caught on camera

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

 
Board of good sports

By Chris Daley | From Page: A9 | Gallery

.

Opinion

The balancing act: More county shenanigans

By Larry Weitzman | From Page: A4

 
California rambling: Surprising Santa Clara

By John Poimiroo | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Labor Day

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

$80M sheriff’s headquarters boondoggle

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Billboard

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Fiscal analysis? Absolutely

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Town hero to four-legged creatures

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Buying binge

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
Wealth creation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

EID drought

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

 
.

Sports

Schedule: Sept 1-7, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Tribute to Tilford a wild one

By Bill Sullivan | From Page: A6

Cougars ‘cramp’ South Tahoe’s style

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6

 
Oak Ridge opens with road win

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

 
Grizzlies dominate from start to finish

By Scott Warden | From Page: A6

D’backs record 48-0 shutout

By Brandon Anicich | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

Lessons learned while roofing in paradise

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
As we were: Drought issues

By Ken Deibert | From Page: B2

September is California Wine Month

By Wine Institute | From Page: B3

 
Film series starts with ‘Inequality for All’

By Coalition For Change | From Page: B3

Teen Court in Placerville invites new participants

By Health and Human Services Agency | From Page: B3

 
Sacworldfest kicks off arts season

By California State Unversity, Sacramento | From Page: B4

 
.

Essentials

Lake levels 8-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
Crime Log: Aug. 13-16

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

.

Obituaries

Aaron Robert Smith

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Kathleen Ann Wilkes

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

.

Comics