MCU poker tip: Listen for sighs

Poker players who sigh, then subsequently bet, usually hold big hands. They’re trying to appear sad in an attempt to fool you.

Fine. Here’s the problem. Among more sophisticated opponents, the sigh won’t be as obvious. You’ll need to listen for something that’s just audible enough to reach you, but doesn’t seem overly acted. That’s because accomplished players try to steer your decisions with subtle actions.

They feel too much “Hollywood” makes them seem silly and, also, they think false indicators that are left for you to discover — rather than being “in your face” — have a better chance of succeeding. Often, they’re right.

Exhaled question

In any case, when you’re against experienced players or pros, listen for a soft sigh. It might even have a question mark at the end of it — sort of like a “now what” expressed by exhaled breath, rather than words. If you listen, you’ll discover what I mean.

But any type of sigh — soft and subtle or loud and lingering — is an act created to deceive you. That act is meant to convey sadness or doubt about a vulnerable hand. That’s almost never the truth. Instead, the hand you’re facing is very strong, so you should fold all but your most powerful cards.

Just remember: You’ll sometimes have to listen closely. But if that sigh is there, it’s almost always an act, whether it sounds subtle or more obvious.

Of course, this powerful tell won’t help you much playing online poker in today’s environment. But it’s one you should use against opponents sitting at the same physical table in traditional poker games. Seldom call a sigh. — 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.

 

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  1. Hi Mike — I have a question. ” In the 1960’s and 1970’s what tells did pipe-smokers and guy’s who wore depression hats portray frequently? I would like you to answer that, my dad who is 76 retired, in the car business 52 years, told me Ford Motor Company had sales manuals how to deal with certain personality’s. My dad can get along with anyone, he always has that gift. I love to spend time with him, but I think he doesn’t like me building him up, hes to smart for that, but when I do I’m being 100% honest. He sold the catholic priests there cars back in the day, he had repeat customers for decades and there relation, My grandpa also, he died in 1976 of lung cancer, I remember grandpa always had a white shirt and tie on with a lit cigarette burning. Grandpa was as my dad always says ” A True Master Salesman. You will never rarely hear dad talk about his success, he doesn’t use a cell phone or computer.

    Kind regards,

    Todd

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