In a PokerNews interview of respected Belgian poker pro Davidi Kitai, poker journalist Remko Rinkema conducts a short interview of Kitai on the subject of poker tells. If you’re not familiar with him, here is Kitai’s Wikipedia page.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the few points Kitai makes in the interview:
- The first step of recognizing tells is studying your own tells. If you do that, you will start to recognize the tells of other players.
- Kitai says that when he started out playing, many of his opponents were strong, young players who knew all the calculations and odds and all the math, so he tried to find the edge with psychology and live tells.
- Kitai says that he had a lot of tells when starting out. He mentions shaking hands when betting.
- As far as top advice for what to keep track of when beginning players are playing, Kitai recommends being aware of the manner in which a bet is made (e.g., the movement of the hands.) He recommends gaining control and consistency by training in front of the mirror, to ensure you always have the same betting pattern.
- Regarding the importance of timing-tells, Kitai says a lot of it depends on the usual timing patterns of the player. If a player is tanking every time, there’s not much information there from a tank. But if a player usually acts quite quickly, and then tanks, there is information there.
Nothing too surprising or revolutionary in this interview or these points. I just like to draw attention to it when experienced, respected players talk about poker tells at all. It is rare to find a high-stakes player go on record in much detail at all about specifics of the tells they find important; this is often because they don’t want to give up their edge in the games they are currently playing in. I’ve had a few experienced, high-stakes players tell me point-blank they wouldn’t talk to me about the tells they find most practically useful in their current games, because they didn’t want to take a risk of giving up edges in the games they play. (This might also be partially explained by them wanting to retain some mystique and create an intimidation factor in their opponents.)
So this is why most interviews end up being kind of vague like this. But it still supports the point that live tells (and preventing live tells) are important.