MCU poker tip: How to use “pokerclack”

You may have heard the term “pokerclack.” It’s the name I gave in 1983 to one of the most profitable sounds in poker.

It’s hard to describe pokerclack, so I’ll let you demonstrate it for yourself. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and apply suction. Now remove the suction.

Did you hear that? It was sort of like a tsk, right? (Hey, that’s not a misprint, I spelled the word correctly, but it’s pronounced “tisk.”) Anyway, let’s just call it pokerclack, which is closely related.

A sad sound

Pokerclack is a sad sound; it means “that’s too bad.” And whenever you hear it at the poker table, someone is trying to fool you into thinking they have a bad hand. Pokerclack is an act that almost always indicates strength.

The sound can be quite subtle and you’ll have to listen closely. Sometimes you won’t hear it at all for a whole poker session. But when you do hear it, you should usually fold anything less than a totally superior hand.

Don’t expect to catch a bluff. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

4 thoughts on “MCU poker tip: How to use “pokerclack””

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  1. I sometimes say, “I have to go”, then I ship it with a terrible starting hand, then when no one calls, I show my rags, so that the next time I shove, I get calls…

  2. I have to disagree on, “oh well time to go home” comment then SHOVE. I grinded out a living for years at the lower NL (100-400) tables in the LA area and often times this comment was right on the nose about why a guy was doing it. Often he was short stacked, just lost a pot, had to go to work, had to meet with his parole officer (these games had some characters). I found a lot of time this statement meant either a trash hand or a med strength hand, almost never a premium, as they would have wanted to extract more value from JJ or greater and kept quiet. Of course you always have to analyze the individual situation and player, but many times I would catch the “I have to go home now” guy with his poker pants down calling with a hand like A10 and finding myself ahead.

  3. Hiya Mike,

    I’d like to present you and your readers with a specific example of, for lack of a better phrase, “verbal clack.” The following is what I draw from my 4+ years of experience regularly playing $2-$2 No Limit Hold’Em. I’m most likely overlooking this specific example somewhere on p1 but here goes:

    The “I Have to Go Home Anyways” All In Shove. Naturally there are many variants to this particular utterance all equally cute and begging for a call. DON’T CALL THAT BET unless you have a very profitable hand.

    I find it very amusing when my opponents mutter this while simultaneously shipping their entire (but usually short) stacks into the middle. This verbalization usually accompanies a large pocket pair but AK, AQ, AJ (usually suited) have been witnessed on occasion. Unfortunately I don’t have the hard stats on the reliability of this tell but from my personal experience it HAS to be upwards of 90%. Very rarely have I seen an opponent verbalize and ship with <10-10. Also, I have NEVER seen anybody say the magic words and then reveal a bluff. I think I'll attempt that very feat in the near future most likely in late position. I'll report back on the results. Anybody else experience the "I think I hear my mother calling me" phenomenon? Got any other specific "verbal clacks?"

    1. Hi, Z. W. —

      Thanks for making your first comment and joining our Poker1 family.

      That’s a very interesting observation, and I think you’re right on the money in suggesting that the comment would almost never indicate a bluff.

      I think on the occasional times that it isn’t accompanying a super-strong hand, the opponent is playing something marginal and wants to be able to show it later without embarrassment. The comment provides an excuse. Usually, as you state, it’s probably a reasonably strong or very strong hand.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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