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Poker Tells: Caro's Law of Poker Tells Summary

Mike Caro

Mike Caro is a professional poker player, theorist and consultant. He is the author of many poker books including the famous BOOK OF POKER TELLS, a groundbreaking work that has become the standard book on the subject. Among his many achievements, Caro wrote an artificial poker-playing program which he demonstrated in the 1984 World Series of Poker. In the 1990s, he predicted that online poker would eventually surpass brick n' mortar poker in popularity.

Below is a summary of poker tell principles based on Caro's Law of Tells.

Caro's Law of Poker Tells

- The Great Law: Poker players are either "acting" or they aren't. If they are, judge what they want you to do and do the opposite.

- The way a person arranges their chips often show what type of player they are. Careful means a tight player. Careless means a loose player.

- How a person buys and re-buys chips also reflects the type of player they are. If they show off, they like to take risks. If they are discreet, they take few risks.

- An unskilled player who shares a hand while waiting for someone else to call usually not bluffing.

- Beware of trembling and other signs of nervousness. Usually the player has a monster.

- Covering the mouth betrays a bluff.

- A real smile means a really good hand. A fake smile, a bluff.

- When a player is unusually friendly, chances are they are bluffing.

- A stolen look at a player's own chips means they have improved their hand and decided to bet.

- To check immediately after new cards are dealt means the new cards did not help a player's hand.

- When someone bets instantly after new cards are dealt, it is rare they are bluffing.

- Do not call a player who feigns weakness.

- Call or raise to a player who makes a show of strength.

- Players who look away are more dangerous than those who stare at you.

- A prolonged look at one's cards betrays a weak hand.

- To reach for one's chips before it is one's betting turn betrays a weak hand.

- It is usually a bluff to reach for the pot too early.

- It is usually a bluff to spread one's hand too early.

- When a player takes a second look at their hand after they bet, it is probably a bluff.

- When a player bets forcefully or with exaggerated gestures, it is usually a bluff.

- When a player bets gently, it is rarely a bluff.

- When faced with conflicting tells, judge which is more likely to be the "acting" tell and accordingly frustrate your opponent's plan.

- A mistake in a bet is usually part of a bluff.

- Negative sounds such as sighs, groans and the "clacking" sound (made by striking the tongue behind the upper teeth) betray a monster. Do not call what Caro has termed "Pokerclack."