Friday, January 30, 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

    Limited Prop. 90 extension approved

    By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

     
    Placerville PD testing out body cams

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

    Clay Street bridge plan reactivated

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    American River Inn: Duo maintain Georgetown landmark

    By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mustang strikes tree on Latrobe Road

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

    Multi-car collision causes major injury

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

     
    Awards for innovative EID workers

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A3

    DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

    By El Dorado County District Attorney's Office | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Opinion

    Salmon on Cosumnes?

    By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A6

     
    The weekly Daley: I’m not a scientist, but…

    By Chris Daley | From Page: A6

    Billingsley’s Bullets: Want to create ageless joy?

    By Bob Billingsley | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Letters

    When is a fee not a fee?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    I hope his friends read Altshuler’s column

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    Placerville Main Street Rehabilitation Project

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Sports

    South 1 season gets underway

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11

     
    El Dorado sets up Sr. Night showdown

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Cougars edge Union Mine

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    El Dorado races past D’backs

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Roundup: Jan. 28, 2015

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11

     
    Alpine Race results

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11

    Bruins pin down Roseville

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Prospecting

    IT takes two in ‘Red, White and Tuna’

    By Pat Lakey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Things to do: Jan. 30, 2015

    By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

    Discover Ecstatic Dance in Placerville

    By News Release | From Page: B2

     
    Guitar heroes play at Harris Center

    By Carrera Productions | From Page: B2

    Pink Floyd tribute at Sutter Creek Theatre

    By Sutter Creek | From Page: B3

     
    Guess Who is at MontBleu

    By Montbleu | From Page: B3

    Feist Wines presents Willie Watson in concert

    By Feist Wines | From Page: B7

     
    Visual artistry dazzles the audience

    By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B8

    Super time at Carson Valley Inn

    By Carson Valley Inn | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Essentials

    Lake levels 1-29-15

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Donald Benjamin Deal

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    Janet Louise (Percy) Ostlund

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    William Charles “Chuck” Terry funeral notice

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    Jerald Warren Bennett

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    .

    Real Estate

    The curse of a quick offer

    By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

     
    .

    Comics

    Sudoku

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Rubes

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    Long Story Short

    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, February 1, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

     
    Horoscope, Saturday, January 31, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

    Horoscope, Friday, January 30, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

     
    .

    Home Source

    The curse of a quick offer

    By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4