Lie to Me Season 2 Episode 9 “Fold Equity” Comments
This week’s episode involved gambling.
We get asked all the time about the possibility of training poker players, and I think that learning to read micro and subtle expressions of emotion, and other nonverbal behaviors, would be a great skill to add to any poker player’s skill set.
That having been said, however, I also firmly believe that just learning the skills in and of themselves will not necessarily make one a better player or guarantee winnings. Like any professional context, whether or not a person will be effective in using the skills in reading people is dependent on HOW they use them.
I am in no way an expert (or even a novice!) at playing poker, but from what I can tell from the game, it seems that the ability to read micro or subtle emotional expressions needs to be coupled with an intimate knowledge of the game, the probabilities, and understanding the nature of the stories told by players nonverbally (and sometimes verbally) as they check, call, raise or fold.
Moreover, the context is entirely different than others in which we typically try to detect lies. In our usual context – such as law enforcement related interview – the overall context in one in which the truth is condoned, lying is bad, and there are stakes involved if a person is caught lying. In the poker context, the overall context is one in which lying is condoned and expected, lying is good, and the conditions for the stakes are blurry. Thus, the entire rules of the context are different than usual, and thus the skills need to be used in a theory that is entirely different.
Given these facts, poker players can certainly learn our stuff, but should figure out the best way to use those skills in their context.
There is no reason to believe that what we have learned about tells in the science to date can say much about the tells that occur in poker. Of course, that’s an empirical question, and one that we could certainly find out about if we actually did the studies on poker.