Friday, March 27, 2015
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

    Heard over the back fence: Dance the night away

    By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

     
    Harris unemotional in interview until affair discussed

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Threat locks down schools

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Gold and boots found on Main

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

     
    EDWPA continues debate on water rights application

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Discover More Than Gold

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A3

    Community meetings ongoing in Dollar General proposal

    By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Best in Basin nominations accepted through March 31

    By Tahoe Regional Planning Agency | From Page: A4

    Grand opening for new animal shelter on Sunday

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A4

     
    EDH road work at Francisco Drive

    By News Release | From Page: A8

    Small fires sparked off Highway 50

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Dead deer has neighbors crying ‘foul’

    By Julie Samrick | From Page: A9

    Citizens can report wildlife mortality to CDFW online

    By Caifornia Department Of Fish & Wildlife | From Page: A9

     
    Water providers urge continued conservation

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A15

    .

    Opinion

    Fire Fee returns inadequate

    By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A6

     
    Home country: Fly tying and love advice

    By Slim Randles | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Letters

    Chris Daley’s opinion on open carry

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

     
    State of Jefferson

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    Save your sunscreen money, buy a hat

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

     
    Man’s best friend, or victim?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Today’s Cougar Relays draws big field

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11

     
    Griz wins big ‘Diehl’

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Lady Trojans three-hit

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11

     
    Lady Diamondbacks slip past Galt’s Warriors

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

    Cougar squads remain undefeated

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Roundup: Mar. 25, 2015

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A12

    .

    Prospecting

    Hilarity is nonstop in ‘Spamalot’

    By Pat Lakey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Things to do: March 27, 2015

    By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

    Light-amber liquid is golden

    By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    ‘The Whipping Man’ plays at STC

    By Sacramento Theatre Company | From Page: B3

    Audiences to appear magically at show

    By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B3

     
    Flowers and recycled art

    By El Dorado Arts Council | From Page: B3

    InConcert presents Alessio Bax

    By Inconcert Sierra Foothills | From Page: B3

     
    Dinner shows start in Diamond Springs

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: B3

    Surf’s up at MontBleu

    By Montbleu | From Page: B4

     
    Lauren and Lisa in concert

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: B4

    Special concert at Capital Stage

    By Capital Stage | From Page: B4

     
    Time to register for Sugarloaf Stampede

    By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: B4

    Celebrate spring season with Folsom Symphony

    By Folsom Symphony | From Page: B6

     
    Cap Stage announces ‘Blackberry Winter’

    By Capital Stage | From Page: B6

    Sacramento series to culminate in feature film

    By The Alternative Arts Collective | From Page: B6

     
    Night Ranger plays Hard Rock

    By Hark Rock Hotel And Casino | From Page: B7

    Museums offer Telepresence

    By Fine Arts | From Page: B7

     
    Foothill Foodie: An appetite for history

    By Emilie Mimolette | From Page: B9 | Gallery

    Priceless performance at Harris Center

    By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B14

     
    Sierra Rep to present ‘The Honky Tonk Angels’

    By Sierra Repertory | From Page: B14

    Pink Floyd Experience returns to Harris Center

    By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B15

     
    .

    Essentials

    Building Permits: March 9-13

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Barbara Maddox

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    Carolyn Ruth (Ulmer) Gorman

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    John J. Teresi

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Real Estate

    Finding the right agent

    By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

     
    Spring cleaning fever: Clean where the sun shines

    By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS8

    .

    Comics

    Sudoku

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    Rubes

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Long Story Short

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Speed Bump

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    Tundra

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Shoe

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    New York Times Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

    Horoscope, Sunday, March 29, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

     
    Horoscope, Saturday, March 28, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

    Horoscope, Friday, March 27, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

     
    .

    Home Source

    Finding the right agent

    By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

    Spring cleaning fever: Clean where the sun shines

    By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS8