After years of little attention from the poker press, lately we've seen a whole slew of books on the topics of bluffing and tells. Some of these new books have been quite good, providing significantNick Christenson is widely regarded as one of the best gambling book reviewers publishing today. He is a contributor for Poker Player magazine, and has published in Full-Tilt and Gambling Times. He is also the editor of the very funny 'Casino Death Watch,' which chronicles the comings and goings of casinos in Las Vegas. He is an avid poker and blackjack player. Nick's website is www.jetcafe.org/~npc/ additions to this aspect of poker literature. One of the most anticipated of these books is Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap written by former FBI expert Joe Navarro along with Psychology PhD and noted gambling author Marvin Karlins.
After a fairly large selection of Forewords, Prefaces, Introductions, and such, Navarro starts in on the bases for his observations regarding tells in poker. In a short amount of time Navarro has gained a reputation in the poker community as a man with considerable insight into the psychology of players. He certainly has the background to provide such insight, so I was curious to see what he had to say on the topic.
Navarro discusses a variety of behaviors that can indicate the mind set of one's poker opponents. Many of these ideas have been discussed before, but the author provides new insights and perspectives on these topics that I found interesting. I'm guessing that most people who are interested in the topic of poker tells will find at least some of what Navarro has to say to be worthy of consideration.
The author covers a variety of ways in which a poker player can inadvertently tip their emotional state. Of course Navarro discusses attitudes, acting, and "classical" tells. He also spends considerable time on ideas that haven't seen much discussion in previous books, including hands, false tells, and tells of the feet. The author also does a good job of warning readers that just because one has a read on what a player is feeling, that doesn't necessarily mean that one knows the right way to proceed.
One thing that seems common to books about tells is that it seems to me that most of them seem to overstate the value of spotting them, and this book is no exception. We should expect that a book on poker tells will be an advocate for the benefits associated with spotting tells and to strongly recommend the players not project them. I believe, though, that even someone with Navarro's understanding of the hidden messages behind human behavior won't gain benefits to the extent implied by this book.
That doesn't mean that this book doesn't contain a great number of interesting ideas that will improve a player's performance at the poker table. Navarro presents some powerful ideas that I expect will improve the chances of those who read the book and put in the work necessary to integrate these new weapons into their arsenals.
Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap is one of several new books on the topic of tells that I believe are worth reading. The material in this book may not be as groundbreaking as some or the book itself would have one believe, but it contains some excellent information, and it's certainly worth the effort it takes to read it. I expect that anyone who wants to increase the number of poker tells detected and decrease the number of tells projected will benefit from this book.
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