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Sports & Gaming

Masking Tells

Daniel Negreanu

Lesson time 12:11 min

Daniel walks you through his methods for masking tells including how to maintain a consistent physical baseline, practice the perfect poker face, and protect your cards.

Daniel Negreanu
Teaches Poker
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OK, so now for the fun stuff, right? We're gonna talk a little bit about body language, physical tells that you might be giving away, and ways to spot them in other players. And one of the first things that we're gonna focus on is obviously, you know, looking at our cards. And let's say, for example, you're sitting in a nine-hand table. Many of you are curious what you have. So you know, you pick your cards up real quickly. You look at them. And you know, you wait for your action to come. Well, often what happens there is when you look down at a bad hand, you are not paying attention. If anyone's being perceptive and they noticed that you looked to your cards, and now you're having a conversation, or you're ordering food, or you're on your phone, or you're not paying attention, they're gonna know that you're not gonna play. So why does that matter? Should it matter? It's like, well, who cares? You're not gonna play anyway. It matters because when you do look at your cards and don't do that, you're way more likely to like what you've seen. So if you normally, you know, look at your cards, and then you just kind of do this, and all of a sudden, you look at your cards and go, whose bet? Oh, it's on you? It's on you? Oh, yeah, then it's not my turn. You're giving away the fact that, before these players even act, that you have a strong hand. So if, for example, the players on your right were gonna, like, steal and bluff, you've actually prevented them from doing that. Now, you could mess with this. Like, you could actually do some reverses here and pretend that you're doing that to people. But I wouldn't play that game just yet, especially if you're a beginner or intermediate. For the most part, just wait till it's your turn to look at your cards. All right, so obviously when you look at your cards, this is an important consideration in terms of what you're giving away because, while you're looking at your cards if you're waiting for your turn, everyone else at the table is looking at you. They're watching you. So how you look at your cards can often give away some information in terms of how strong the hand is. So I'm gonna look at my cards right now, and then I'm gonna ask you if you think I have a strong hand or a weak hand based on my reaction. OK, so I'm gonna look at my cards like that. OK. So that was the first one. Now, we're gonna do the second one. You tell me which one you think is stronger. I'm gonna look at my cards again. All right. So of those two, which one would you be more worried about if you saw an opponent doing that? Well, if you said the first one, you'd be correct. Typically, what players do when they really like their hand is-- so, you know, they're chatting, and they're talking. They're like [CHATTING SOUNDS], oh! Whoa, whoa, whoa! I don't want anyone to see! So they'll put their cards back down on the felt so that no one sees and they're excited about what's about to happen, whereas when someone's ofte...

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Put yourself across the felt from Daniel Negreanu, the biggest live tournament poker winner of all time. The six-time World Series of Poker champion teaches poker strategy, advanced theory, and practice through hand-reviews of his winning games. Learn how to sharpen your mental game through demos on reading opponents and spotting tells. Join Daniel at the table to increase your win rate, grow your ROI, and get your game “in the money.”


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

A fun introduction. Makes the class sound inviting!

Wow, really showed all aspects of what is needed to be successful. I'm so motivated to up my game.....Thanks Daniel!

I knew nothing about poker before this class, now I feel like an expert.

learned a lot thanks! I would like to know more on as an beginner/intermediate how to improve. obviously I don't have anything level 4 like u call it and I go to the poker table in the casino quite often but im not sensing any big improvements. sometimes I lose sometimes I win I would say about 50/50


A fellow student

I'm pretty strongly on the opposite side of the looking at your cards as soon as you receive them issue. I think it really depends on you as a player which decision is correct. If you wait until it is your turn to look at your cards, you get to watch the other players look at their cards, and you may pick up some information from this. If you are exceptionally adept at reading body language, you may want to use this strategy. You may also give up some information that you are not interested in the hand or are exceptionally interested if you look at your cards before it is your turn as Daniel noted. However, if you wait until it is your turn before looking at your cards, you lose the ability to think ahead and be prepared with your action when it is your turn to act. In my experience, usually the most significant tells in poker are timing tells. If you take a long time to think about a hand, your opponents will know that you have a difficult decision to make, and this reveals a lot of information about your hand (it is marginal) It is easier to balance your range of tells by feigning interest or disinterest in a hand than it is to balance your range of timing tells. The only way to balance timing tells is by taking a long time on every single decision. This sets a terrible precedent, and results in games with a glacial pace of play, which can destroy a professional's hourly rate.

John P.

I've fallen into the bad habit of looking at my cards when i received them. My rational to myself for doing so was I wanted to have time to think about what I was going to do. Has anyone found themselves doing that and how did you overcome it?

Bryan I.

What about a strategy like this: always put 10 chips on your cards to protect them, but randomly before a deal, decide that this hand you will only put 3 chips down. Now when you get your cards, you know that your opponents will be likely to believe they are weak, and if they are weak, you fold them anyway, but if they are strong, you have given yourself an opportunity to catch some more value because opponents to your right will be more likely to bet against your better hand. In other words, just allow randomness to potentially give you situations that you can decide on your own whether or not you can take better advantage of them. And you do it pre-deal so that it's not possible for you to actually tell anything with the action.

Michael U.

waiting to look at your cards until it is your turn also keeps you engaged in looking at other players and observing the game. If you look at your cards as soon as you get them and see 38os you have already folded mentally and are not likely to pay attention to what everyone else is doing.

A fellow student

Thanks Daniel It's great to learn from my favorite player and fellow Canadian Tim

A fellow student

Ok so i was wondering what this lesson would be. I have a tell for David. David becomes silent when he's bluffing and when he has hands. When David is carefree and indifferent he's all smiles and chatty. Short lesson. I wouldn't pay $180 for just one course but none of the others interest me...

Steven L.

I play at Foxwoods , my bankroll is such where I play 1/2 , need to build it up to move up, anyway , I have seen differences in starting ranges, I know this isn't part of the tells but... more players are opening their hand ranges with a lot wider cards and also limping in with Aces and Kings. I see it as not so much the physical tells more than trying to put players on a hand range, looking at the board and putting together card tells more than physical.

John D.

On iPad no volume. Have stumbled on control in upper right corner in past but can’t get it to appear. How do I get to it? Thanks for any help!

Sean O.

I folded a big hand after my opponent stop chewing his food when he saw the flop. Live tells matter!

David F. I made this short video, I found it very helpful when I reviewed it I spotted a couple of tells.