Poker tips plus tells from Richard Blyth

Aug 27, 2013 3:09 AM

Richard Blyth is a brilliant and very active senior citizen/retiree. Along with his beautiful wife, Anita, he is a charter member of the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group that was organized by my co-columnist, George “The Engineer” Epstein about eight years ago.

The group is probably the largest and most active seniors poker gathering in the world! What’s more, Richard created the Richard B. Reverse Tell that serves so well to reinforce the Esther Bluff – a powerful tactic for successful bluffing.

Recently, Richard presented one of the class sessions for the Seniors Poker Class at the Claude Pepper Senior Center in Los Angeles. I could not attend, but George was good enough to pass on to me a copy of Richard’s lecture notes. I was highly impressed.

So, with their permission, I will share some of Richard’s words of wisdom with readers of Gaming Today.

Seating at the Table

“All other things being equal, it’s best to be seated at one of the three seats across from the dealer (seats no. 4, 5, and 6). Those seats give you the best opportunity to observe the other players and look for (among other things) tells.”

“Unless you are quite tall, use one or two cushions to sit higher up in your seat, to better observe the players and board. Certainly, you never want to misread the cards on the board. The better you can observe your opponents, the more tells you can detect.”

In addition to many great tells Richard selected from Mike Caro’s book and CD, he discussed several of his own plus his interpretation. They are brilliant. Here’s a rather subtle, but significant tell that demonstrates the value of listening to your opponents’ comments to gain valuable tells:

“After the final round of betting, player A noticed that player B showed down J-10 offsuit as his holecards. He pointed to the cards and said to player B, ‘You know, those two are very good cards to have. Using the Hold’em Algorithm that adds up to 28 points – well worth staying to see the flop.’

“This led me to realize that player A, who noted this fact, was himself a good player who would likely have good cards at the showdown. It pays to know your opponents. Henceforth, if you are in a pot with player A, be cautious.”

Carefully viewing the game, Richard noticed one player always raised preflop with two of the same suit or two connectors.

“That tells you quite a bit about his hand when he raises before the flop,” Richard explained. “As with other tells, now you can make better decisions about playing that hand; and you have gained an edge over your opponents.

“Some players ask the dealer for a specific card before the flop. If that card comes up, be careful…they might be truthful.”

Richard offered a fascinating corollary:

“Ask occasionally for a card that would not help your hand; if it comes up, make a bluff.” (That might be called a Reverse Verbal Tell. Something to think about.)

“We have all seen a player show his hand to a friend who is not involved in the hand. This indicates a good hand. (That’s reasonable.) You can watch the body language (that means a tell) of the person being shown the cards.

“Usually, he will show a bland ‘poker face’ so as not to give away any information. But then, I have seen a player show his cards and promptly throw them away. You may glean from this that he had good starting cards but they didn’t hit well on the flop.”

“How can you use this information? If you also had high cards that did not connect on the flop, your chances of hitting them might be considerably diminished because one or both of the cards you need likely were in the discarded hand he had just shown to his friend.”

Very clever!

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