Caro’s Book of Poker Tells

Undoubtedly, Caro’s Book of Poker Tells is a reliable classic. First published almost three decades ago and now in its third edition (with Cardoza Publishing), the guide has endured as an essential handbook for beginners and a foundation for more seasoned players. It details the various types of poker tells, categorized by their sources: ‘Tells From Those Who Are Unaware’, ‘Tells From Actors’, ‘Some General Tells’ and ‘The Sounds of Tells.’ It then breaks each category down with illustrations which relate to the behavior in question, a categorization of the tell, an explanation of what it means, a discussion of what motivates this behavior, an approximation of the tell’s reliability, and an estimate of its value to the attentive player. Most importantly, Caro explains which steps to take in order to capitalize on the tell of another player. The remainder of the book is devoted to ‘Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring,’ Mike Caro University poker charts, and, most importantly, ‘Caro’s Great Law of Tells.’ Few books have been written on the art of tells after this simply because much of the knowledge in this one has become part of the poker vernacular.

Mike Caro himself, nicknamed the “Mad Genius of Poker,” has been one of the world’s leading authorities on poker strategy, psychology and statistics for years. He contributed 50 statistical tables to Doyle Brunson’s Super/System, which remain some of the most comprehensive, accurate, and often quoted statistics ever published on poker.

While no one doubts the quality and usefulness of Caro’s Book of Poker Tells, there remains the issue that this is the book on tells, with which most players are familiar. Thus, the book of tells itself has affected its very subject – with players now far more aware of their own tells and each others’. And so it is difficult to trust the strange percentages for reliability and values per hour given for each tell, as they have not been updated since the 70s and it is not clearly explained how they were calculated in the first place. Also, sometimes the photographs are too small as to illustrate a tell clearly. These are minor concerns, however, regarding a book whose advice remains pertinent and essential for any player today.

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