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Poker News | World Poker News

Spy Catcher “Tells” All

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Catching spies and reading poker players tells have more in common than one might think. Just ask former FBI spy catcher Joseph Navarro.

While working for 25 years for the FBI, Navarro's job was to scrutinize suspected traitors, looking for behavior traits that would give them away. In the poker world these traits are called Tells. It was a natural correlation between these two worlds that brought Navarro to the realm of poker. He brings his ability to read body language to the poker table where he says; "Both are games of subterfuge and raw, primitive passion. A poker player, like a spy, telegraphs self-assurance or self-doubt through subconscious body language. Poker players lie all the time, they pretend they are strong when they are weak, or weak when they are strong. The truth is they can all be read. You can have a poker face, but I've yet to see someone with a poker body."

According to Navarro, none of us can hide from our uncontrollable brain impulses. Regardless if we wear sunglasses, hats, hoods or a bag on our head, we will still give ourselves away. He teaches his students to be constantly studying their opponents for face, hand and even leg movements. While a player's face may remain stone still, their leg may be bouncing like a rubber ball, signaling a monster hand. Other common tells are for a player to look at their chip stack if they have a good hand, and to protect their cards more than they would if they had a bad hand.

Although Navarro is now retired from the FBI, he still helps train FBI and CIA agents in his field of expertise. He also works part-time at the World Series of Poker Academy, where he teaches his unique skills of reading poker players body language. Navarro claims he can read anyone, even the pros, within a few minutes. This has players like 10 time WSOP champ Phil Helmuth listening. Helmuth is one of Navarro's many students and claims to have learned some valuable tips at his seminars.

Navarro teaches his students to watch for tells from the very minute they sit down at a poker table. Some of the subtle things he says you should watch for: A confident player generally takes up more table space and uses more hand motions. When a player has a good hand, they tend to look down at their chips. If a player has a bad hand, they tend to squint their eyes, "We squint at things we don't like" Navarro claims.

Are there any major differences between the sexes when it comes to tells? According to Navarro, we are all about the same, but some women exhibit tells that are harder to read.

The one thing us women do that men generally don't do? We have a tendency to play with our hair when we lack confidence.

Remembering all this may seem overwhelming to the average poker player. So, if you are a "hair fingerer" or a "leg bouncer", now is the time to sign up and play online.

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