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

Published by

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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