Want To Bluff In Poker? Focus On Your Arm Movements, Researchers Say
When it comes to bluffing in poker, your arm movements may be just as important as maintaining a steely poker face, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science. In the study, conducted by researchers from Tufts University in Massachusetts, college students were able to tell whether professional poker players were betting with a bad hand based on how their arms moved as they bet.
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"Even though professional players may be able to regulate their facial expressions, their arm movements could betray the quality of their poker,'' the researchers said in their abstract. "So, players' intentions may be visible from their actions while moving poker chips to place bets.''
In their study, the Tufts researchers showed 78 college students (none of whom were poker players) 20 video clips of professional poker players recorded during a tournament. The 78 students were split into three groups and shown different video clips. The students who watched videos of the arms and torsos of players did much better at guessing players' confidence than players who were shown videos of players faces and torsos (but not arms).
What exactly made the arm movements a dead giveaway, however, was not determined in the study. One obvious theory is that someone who is bluffing may move their arms more awkwardly than someone holding aces back to back. Whatever the case, the conclusion to draw is that bluffers expending all their energy on the perfect poker face shouldn't do so at the expense of their body language while betting.
"Both player confidence and smoothness significantly predicted likelihood of winning, which suggests that movement smoothness might be a valid cue for assessing poker-hand quality," the researchers said.
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