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Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells

Up until the poker boom at the beginning of this century, there were very few poker books that one could safely call a "must read". Mike Caro's pinnacle book on poker tells was one such book. Called by a few different names in its many printings (The Body Language of Poker, Caro's Book of Tells, etc.) this book is so important, that we decided it needed its very own section on our website.

Every poker player who is serious about their game has read this book. If you do not have it on your shelf, then right now is the perfect time to pick it up. Click on that Amazon link below and buy it now!


Caro's Book of Tells by Mike Caro


Reviewed by Jotham McCauley

From the opening notes Caro's personality exudes through his writing. His publishing company is named the Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming and Life Strategy, so accordingly he addresses more than just one subject. He leaves little doubt that he is ever less than comprehensive.

The list of tells, complete with captioned photography, are first broken down into two major categories. Caro tells us that without even thinking about it, people choose whether or not to be an actor. If they are acting, you gain an upper hand by interpreting the information they give you. If they are not, the clues they leave while fully unaware reveal what cards they likely hold. Furthermore, Caro teaches methods eliciting actions from your competition for information gathering, and the meaning of several sounds you will regularly hear at the poker table.

sfTelling actions pass under the nose of many players who do not realize what meaning lies in the manifestations of human reasoning as opponents look at their cards. The first of these are habits performed unaware. You can gauge a player's mood by how wild or privately they change in for chips. Their aggressiveness by their neat or sloppy chip stack. Their patience by the way they sit. Do they tap their fingers in anticipation? Are they showing an observer their hand? Are their hands calm or trembling as they bet? Try asking a question of the bettor during a big pot; you gain valuable facts by the ease or awkwardness of their response. Notice if an opponent shuffles their hole cards. Discrete glances to their own chips. Glances at yours. Protective holding of their cards. Their eyes on the coming of each up-card. Their eyes as they bet-do they look at you or away? Is their posture stiff, natural, or animated? Understanding the likelihood of each unconscious reaction will allow you to place yourself further ahead in cost-versus-reward poker questions.

sfThe second type of tells are habits by actors. The strategy of many novice players is to tell you they are weak when they are strong, and strong when they are weak. They may make a motion of exaggerated uncertainty as they bet, fake a fold out of turn, or look away from the action, all while they hold a hand they want you to lose to. When weak, they may stare at the flop or their own cards, look menacingly at you, expose cards, or reach to their chips to appear betting, all designed to keep you from taking the pot. Generally with this type of player, they will place their chips in the pot gently when they have a strong hand and pound them with authority when their hand is weak. Always identify what actors want, then give them the opposite.

The underlying message to the analysis of body language is not to engulf yourself in cataloging every motion of every player during every moment. Rather the propensity of an individual to display one of the tells unconsciously throughout the course of a game is an opportunity ripe for increasing your chip stack. Some people will display certain tells, others will display others. Caro's Book of Tells establishes the groundwork for a policy of psychological pursuit that must become second nature for your successful poker play.