When it comes to reading body language, there’s no tougher competition than the professional poker scene. If you want to be among the best, you have to be a master at observing your opponents, while also hiding your own intentions. If you want a few tips, poker pro Liv Boeree is here to help.
In this video from Big Think, Boeree, who most recently took top honours for the tag-team championship at the 2017 World Series of Poker, describes the methods she uses to judge the opposition.
While poker is a bit different to, say, a friend’s soiree, understand a person’s “baseline” is a good starting point:
The most important thing is, first of all, to get a baseline of somebody. It’s impossible to tell whether the behaviour someone is showing is meaningful or not if you don’t know how they naturally behaviour.
Boeree goes on to explain, in the context of poker, she’ll watch how a player reacts between hands — are they egregious or quiet — and use that to determine when they’re bluffing.
If you want more practical advice, well, Boeree suggest not looking at people’s faces, which is counter to other advice you might have heard:
People are very aware of their faces … if they’re trying to be dishonest. What they’re not thinking about is the rest of their body. So the lower down on the body that you’re looking at, the more reliable the information.
So yeah — if you want to know if someone’s lying, ignore the eyes and go straight for the feet. Or knees, if you’re feeling polite.