Have you ever played poker?

I don’t play poker as a rule. My facial expressions give me away. I can’t help but show exactly how I feel with my eyes and my mouth. It’s impossible not to know what my cards are by looking at my face.

I have tells, defined by Oxford as unconscious action that is thought to betray an attempted deception. I don’t mean to give my hand away, but I have absolutely no acting ability, so every card is in my face. Those two aces? Look at how my eyebrows shoot up. A whole bunch of nothing in my hand? My lips will do a diagonal slide.

If you’re playing poker, is it important to know someone’s tells?

Yes.

But how about in life.

Does your partner/family have tells?

Can you tell when your partner is trying to hide something?

Can you tell when your child is omitting something intentionally?

How important is it to know the “tells” of the people you love/spend time with?

I admit I’m 50/50 in knowing my family and their tells. My husband has this weird head/neck movement, almost like I think it’s an ostrich that shoots its head out a little when it walks. I know he’s annoyed when he does this. I also know that if my Husband is quiet, something is bothering him. He’s rarely quiet… I don’t know if he’s aware of these traits.

My daughter will sort of sign if she’s upset my something. If she’s annoyed, she will exaggerate her movements. Again, I don’t know if she does these things intentionally.

But, I also know that I miss things. I’m not always attuned to their moods.

So my question is:

How important is it to know the tells of the people in your life?

Do you think your family know your tells?

And please, if you’re a good poker player, tell me how you do it!!

50 thoughts on “Tell Me

  1. I don’t play poker. In fact I don’t play cards at all. For whatever reason I just never liked any game of cards beyond Go Fish on the playground. But, I did play chess. You always have to be one step ahead in chess. (I wrote a chess grant to get a class set of books called “The westing Game” which had a chess theme for solving a mystery. I was great at teaching chess strategies but i real life I was just an ok player. I think I might be good at bluffing if I did play poker. But I, no doubt would start twirling my hair which would be a tell. So perhaps I wouldn’t be very good at deception after all. Some people just have that skill. I don’t.

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  2. I know there are changes in my personality and body language, but is my family aware? I doubt it as there’s no daily interaction. I do think some people will always remain oblivious while others can pick up on even subtle changes in others. I think those abilities, or lack of ability in some cases, can be both a blessing and a curse.

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  3. Not a poker player at all, but I agree totally with what you call the ‘tells.’ I think everyone has them to different degrees as some can hide them better than others while some are aware of them and some even deny them. Gotta say though, kids are at a real disadvantage on this one. You can always tell when your teen is, shall we say not being totally forthcoming, because the mouth is moving. But don’t you worry. Even though you may not be able to play poker, I’m pretty sure you can tell when you’re being snowed. Call it a hunch.

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  4. I can do a pretty good job at hiding emotions, except with those who are real insightful. My one friend can always see it in my eyes, even if I think I am fooling others. I can usually be good at sensing others emotions. Picking up on little things. I think you learn them as you live with your family but I also think that for some people it just comes more naturally at being perceptive in that area.

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  5. I’ve never played poker in my life, so I can’t help you there. But I do think it’s important to recognize the tells of our family, because we may avoid unnecessary coonflict. Like if we know the person is starting to shut down, it’s best to maybe save the conversation for later.
    I don’t think I’d be good at poker because I cannot, try as I might, hide my facial expressions. It’s usually pretty obvious if I’m getting impatient, irritated, or bored. Sometimes I really wish I could do a better job at hiding my tells.

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  6. I have a great poker face but negligible skill at any card game so it goes to waste. I just managed to keep a secret from Julia for nearly two weeks, which is quite impressive for me. I usually only last a day or two before I confess. It was her wedding anniversary present and I bought it a month in advance. She has it now, as I say, I can’t keep a secret. 🙂

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  7. Great title. I am not a good poker player. Much rather read a book 🙂 When my wife is really really quiet, I know she is chewing on something, once it a while its something related tome, the longer we’ve been married, I’ve learned not to assume that it is me.

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  8. Reading people is an important skill set, when combined with the ability to feel people, their emotional state, furthers ones ability to connect and understand a persons situation. Highly effective in any kind of relationship, as long as it is used with good intention. I’m super expressive, and though not bad at poker in general, am blatant about a good hand. 😁😅

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  9. My face is naturally expressive, but I learned how to moderate it early in life as a device for keeping myself safe. Those skills kick in with people I don’t like/trust and in professional settings. When I feel safe (so when with friends), I make no attempt to moderate, so they will probably spot the tells 🙂 I guess it would be possible to use those moderation skills in playing poker if I put myself into the appropriate mindset, but gambling bores me, so there’d be a battle there!

    I do find tells fascinating. During the pandemic, when we had regular TV updates from politicians, Himself & I spent a lot of time identifying their tells.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I learned how to look impassive from my mother, a school teacher who could remain detached no matter what. Her example has stayed with me. As for tells, nothing better than to turn off the sound and watch any politician on TV say things– their tells jump off the screen.

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  11. People read my face like a book, which may explain why I so rarely win at poker. But I can always tell when my Mom is hiding something, and my husband too. My son, not so much. Sometimes he looks upset when he’s feeling cheerful, and other times he looks fine when he’s upset.

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