PokerMoments Interview with Marc Salem


Marc Salem is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on non-verbal communication.  A few weeks ago I had a chance to speak with him by phone and ask him some questions about playing poker.

Marc is not a poker player.  In fact, he has never learned the game, because he says he has an addictive personality – not that it’s a problem – and he feels that if he were to enter a casino, he might never leave due to the adrenaline rush.  But after watching a profile of him on 60 Minutes, I thought he would be a great person to interview for PokerMoments, because of his seemingly uncanny ability to read other people’s minds, a talent that any serious poker player would die to have.  To get an idea of Marc’s skills, check out the video on his site.  I was amazed!

What follows below are some of Marc’s interesting tips to poker players about how to read peoples’ minds, especically when they are faking.  He says that “lies leak out,” and that a person who is faking often exhibits behavior that indicates this.

Marc says that most bluffs – at least by beginners – are done with a sense of overconfidence, an attitude of “I’ll get you now”.   He advises that you should be cautious about second guessing yourself when it comes to reading peoples’ tells.  He says trust your intuition, not your logic.  Trust logic when it comes to things like money management and strategy.

Here are some of the behavioral signs that Marc says may indicate that a person is faking.

1. Tightening up around the eyes.

2. A sense of impatience.

3. Toe tapping or a foot pointing up.

4. Drying of the throat.

5. Touching the face.

6. Preening the hair.

7. Changing of the vocal quality or bodily movement.  For example, a person might speak quickly and then slow down or he might whisper and then get loud or he might speak and then point.  [Marc says that people normally first point and then speak.]

According to Marc, while breaks in continuity of behavior suggest that something is abnormal, that the person is faking, you can’t tell whether the person has a good or a bad hand.

Marc also told me that you have an advantage when you’re playing poker at home, and that there are ways to increase this advantage.  For example, he says that you should eat before you play, but not too many carbs.  And that while you play you should sit in a stiff chair and give your opponents soft plush chairs that are as close to the wall as possible.  Marc points out that by giving your opponents soft plush chairs, you make them feel like they’re seven year olds, with no authority.  And when you make the other players sit as close to the wall as possible, they feel like they’re “up against the wall”.  This makes them as uncomfortable as possible, and gives you an authoritative presence in a position to dominate.

Thanks Marc for the great interview!

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