Caro’s Book of Poker Tells
The Psychology and Body Language of Poker
by Mike Caro
2008, Cardoza Publishing
This is a review of Mike “The Mad Genius” Caro’s Caro’s Book of Poker Tells seventh printing (January 2008). Caro’s Book of Poker Tells was formerly known as Caro’s Book of Tells.
A little over 300 pages, this reads a lot faster due to the structure of the book. Caro uses lots of photos to demonstrate the poker tells and includes full-page charts (“MCU Poker Charts”) to present choice rounds of poker.
There are 12 chapters in all. Four chapters include introductory material like a chapter on “How To Read This Book”. The four chapters that follow are the meat of the book – Poker Tells – and are presented in four broad categories; “Tells from Those who are Unaware”, “Tells from Actors”, “General Tells”, and “The Sounds of Tells”. The meat is followed by two review chapters that are followed by a self-quiz, and a Final Thoughts chapter.
In chapter three, Caro justifies the need for poker players to study tells. He presents “Caro’s Law of Loose Wiring”. The examples Caro uses to explain this law illustrate that the decision to play a hand by both pros and non-pros is based on whim, and not any hard-and-fast rules that say “these hands are playable and these are not.” Given that “law”, it behooves poker players to study tells in order to recognize certain truths about behavior so that they graduate from playing their cards to playing the player.
Of value to the reader:
- 58 tells to study. Each tell is accompanied by:
- At least one photo. Some tells have a series of photos so the reader can better visualize the progression of play, body movements and facial expressions.
- A brief description of the behavior of the player
- A brief statement about the motivation of the player
- A reliability rating for three categories of players; weak, average, and strong
- A monetary value assigned to the tell for three limits; $1, $10 and $100 games
- A discussion which includes more detail of the above
- Approximately 25 Caro Laws of Tells to help the reader categorize the tells
- MCU Poker Charts that help the reader understand a given round of poker. The MCU Poker Charts are Caro’s attempt at providing a universal tool – a universal structure for presenting poker hands. He gives examples of MCU Charts for hold’em, seven-card stud, and draw poker. Caro has given permission for individuals and organizations to adopt the MCU Poker Charts for personal and commercial use.
What I liked most:
- The Structure of the book is set up for real learning.
- There’s the introduction chapters where Caro tells you what he is going to tell you
- Then there’s the chapters where he tells you
- Then there’s two chapters that recap what he told you; “Important Tells Revisited” and a review of Caro’s Laws of Tells
- Culminating with a chapter that tests what you’ve learned (includes answers) entitled, “Play Along Photo Quiz”.
- Plenty of photos that demonstrate the tells, and the photos seemed more natural and not as posed as say the photos in Joe Navarro’s Read’em and Reap.
- MCU Poker Charts made understanding a round easy
- Easy style of writing. Reading flows as points are presented and then Caro moves on.
What I Liked Least:
- The photos are black-n-whites. Many of them are dark and grainy, and you can tell from the hairdos and clothing that they were taken in the 80’s. For the most part, you still get the concept, but, for some I had to look long and hard – even with a written description underneath. With today’s technology, it just isn’t necessary to make do. I look forward to the version that includes clearer, crisper, and more modern photos. And… yes, I would pay for color.
If I ruled the world:
- I’d commission a version that includes only hold’em examples, and 90% of those, no limit hold’em!
Is it worth reading? Yes
Is it a must have for your library? No. You can borrow a copy from your local library, or, if purchasing, a second-hand copy will suit you fine.
Is it good for novices? Yes, for the tells and the photos. I think the MCU Poker Charts will be more readily adopted by frequent players, especially those wanting to build a name for themselves in the poker world.
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Get it now at Amazon.com