Have you ever wondered why so many professional poker players show up at the table in ball caps, slouchy hoodies and sunglasses?

Poker playerA major part of being a good poker player is being able to pick up on subtle and not-so-subtle signals sent out by opposing players that reveal whether or not they have a decent hand. Many players, although they don’t realize it, have a ‘tell’: A physical reaction to a good or bad hand. More astute players can pick up on the subtle signals given out by opposing players and use it to their advantage. That is why many players are electing to wear clothing that will hide their signature tells.

A tell can be something obvious, such as shuffling the cards nervously, playing with the poker chips or leaning forwards or away from the table after checking the cards he was dealt. Other tells can be subtle, such as a change in breathing or facial expression.

Attempting to hide facial features may not be enough to protect a player from hinting at the hand he’s been given. Research done by Tufts University (US) reveals that hand gestures of players with a good set of cards have smoother gestures when they place their bets or raises than those who have a bad hand.

The next time you watch a professional poker tournament on television, make sure to notice which players are attempting to disguise their features during play. For those who do not, see if you can pick up on a ‘tell’ in their facial expression, body posture or the way they place their bets. It may prove to be invaluable to you the next time you sit down at the poker table.