Beyond Tells

By Andy Liakos

They say the best offense is a good defense, and perhaps nowhere is that statement closer to the truth than in the game of poker. Playing your hands blind and calculating odds are not enough; to take it to the next level, you must be able to play your opponents while using available information to put them on a hand. Seventy percent of all communication is non-verbal, so it should come as no surprise that you can learn a lot from your opponent by passively observing his body language and physical behaviors.

In Beyond Tells, poker player James A. McKenna Ph.D. schools the reader on how to get into your opponent’s head. McKenna is a psychotherapist by trade, and by combining his knowledge of the human psyche with his experience in the game of poker, he has truly broken new ground with his published findings on the mindset of a poker player. Beyond Tells goes further than to reiterate what has already been noted on the subject. McKenna explores not only physical tells, but the reasons behind them and the psychological makeup of certain classes of poker players.

Beyond Tells discusses an imperative part of poker which explores not only the psychological aspects of the game, but the sociological impact as well. McKenna has done a fantastic job of creating individual categories for which to profile certain players. By identifying patterns and behaviors, you can use general information to create player-specific profiles in order to better understand a player’s thought process.

To play like a winner, you have to think like a winner. Amir Vahedi once said, "You don't have the whole year to get to know somebody, it's not your wife, it's your opponent, and in five minutes you have to figure them out. “ Beyond Tells is a text book for the advanced poker player. Not since Mike Caro has anyone been able to capture the concepts of both learning how to discover physical tells, and learning how to outline a player’s personality to create the ultimate formula for getting into your opponent’s psyche. McKenna puts these things together to create a winning concept. By applying his new method to what you already know, anyone will have the tools to figure out your opponent in the first five minutes.

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