Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap: A Career FBI Agent's Guide to Decoding Poker Tells

Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap: A Career FBI Agent's Guide to Decoding Poker Tells


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very great player knows that success in poker is part luck, part math, and part subterfuge. While the math of poker has been refined over the past 20 years, the ability to read other players and keep your own "tells" in check has mostly been learned by trial and error.

But now, Joe Navarro, a former FBI counterintelligence officer specializing in nonverbal communication and behavior analysis—or, to put it simply, a man who can tell when someone's lying—offers foolproof techniques, illustrated with amazing examples from poker pro Phil Hellmuth, that will help you decode and interpret your opponents' body language and other silent tip-offs while concealing your own. You'll become a human lie detector, ready to call every bluff—and the most feared player in the room.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061198595
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/07/2006
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 365,740
Product dimensions: 8.78(w) x 5.94(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

FBI Special Agent (Ret.) JOE NAVARRO worked for the Bureau in counterintelligence and counterterrorism. He is now a lecturer and consultant for major companies worldwide. He is the author of What Every BODY is Saying, and has appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, the Today Show, the CBS Early Show, CNN, Fox News, and other major media. He lives in Tampa, Florida.

Marvin Karlins received his Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University and is senior professor of management at the University of South Florida. He is the author of twenty-three books and most recently collaborated with Joe Navarro on Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap.

Phil Hellmuth, Jr. is a ten-time World Series of Poker Champion and all-time leading money winner at the World Series of Poker. In addition to appearances on the Discovery Channel, E!, ESPN, and Fox Sports Net, he has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Time, and Esquire. Phil also contributes to Gambling Times Magazine and writes for many poker websites. He lives with his family in Palo Alto, California.

Read an Excerpt

Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap

Chapter One

How to Become a Serious
Threat at the Poker Table

I presume you want to do your best when you sit down at a poker table. No matter what your level, be it amateur or professional, beginner or seasoned veteran, I realize you've spent your money on this book to improve your game. I, in turn, want you to walk away knowing that you can use what you've learned to achieve that objective.

I'm going to treat you just like the FBI special agents I train. It's a no-nonsense approach. I take my assignments seriously because I know that what I'm teaching can make the difference between life and death in an agent's work. For you poker enthusiasts, the consequences of not learning and using what I'm presenting will not get you killed, but it can be deleterious to your financial well-being. So, let's see what we can do to keep your bankroll healthy.

A Lesson from Medical School

The first-year medical students filed into the amphitheater for their final class in Dr. Patel's human physiology course. Dr. Patel was the oldest professor at the university with a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, so when he arrived with his well-worn medical bag grasped firmly in his right hand, not a sound was heard in the oval-shaped room.

Dr. Patel stepped up to the speaker's platform, extracted a beaker of yellow fluid from his bag, and placed it on the lectern in front of him. "I have an issue I want to discuss with you today," he began, a hint of anger in his voice. "I've heard a rumor around here that some of you think we're working you too hard: that the assignments are toodifficult, the hours too long." The doctor paused and studied the faces of the students who sat in the tiered seats above him. "Well, let me tell you something," he said sternly. "You don't know how easy you have it! When I was in medical school, we worked just as long and hard as you do, plus we didn't have the plush facilities and modern laboratories you all take for granted. For instance," he asked the class, "how do you test for diabetes?"

A female student spoke from the third row. "Well, you can collect a urine specimen and send it to the lab for analysis."

"OK," Dr. Patel replied. "And then what?"

The woman shifted in her seat. "You get the lab report back and make a treatment decision based on the results."

"Exactly," exclaimed the doctor. "Well, in my day we didn't have all those fancy laboratories and diagnostic clinics. Lots of times we had to run the tests ourselves, with no help from anyone else. For example, you know how I had to test for diabetes?"

The woman shook her head and said "no."

"I'll tell you how: taste."

This time the woman shook her head in disbelief.

"That's right," the doctor asserted. "If the sample was sweet, well, that patient had a problem." He picked up the beaker full of yellow fluid. "This is a urine specimen from the lab. And you know what? I've never lost my diagnostic skills." Having said that, the students saw him dip his finger into the urine and lick it.

"That's gross," the medical student declared, her facial expression remindful of someone who had just swallowed raw lemon juice. A chorus of similar reactions throughout the room indicated her revulsion was not unique.

"Hey, at least it's not diabetes," the doctor declared, wiping his hand on a handkerchief he pulled from his lab coat. That didn't seem to ease the students' unrest over witnessing the "diagnosis." They kept speaking to each other in whispered tones until Dr. Patel finally ordered them to be still.

"Now, I suppose some of you are wondering why I concocted this little demonstration," he continued, placing the beaker back on the podium. "There are two reasons, actually. The first is to remind you that medical school has never been easy, and if you can't handle the pressure maybe this is a good time to get out. Now, as a lasting reminder of how difficult medical education is, I want each of you to come up here and do exactly as I did." The doctor tapped on the beaker full or urine. "I want you to get a 'taste' of how difficult medical school can really be."

Nobody left their seat.

"C'mon now, this is no time to be shy."

Not a person moved.

"How about a little gentle persuasion, then," the doctor suggested. "You need to pass this course to continue your studies . . . so if you don't do as I say, I'm going to fail you right out of med school."

That seemed to work. Reluctantly, slowly, and with obvious dismay the students approached the podium, dipped their fingers into the beaker, tasted the urine, and beat a hasty retreat to the bathroom before returning to their seats.

Once everyone returned to the classroom, the doctor began speaking again. "As important as the first reason was for this little demonstration, the second reason is even more critical." Taking a moment to place the beaker back in his medical bag, Dr. Patel paused to give added emphasis to his words.

"The second reason for the urine demonstration is to teach you the importance of observation in your work as doctors. Someday you may be examining a patient who is telling you one thing, while their body language is telling you something else. If you are observing them closely, you might pick up on this discrepancy and make a more informed, accurate diagnosis.

"Just how important is observation?" Dr. Patel allowed a hint of a smile to punctuate his final words. "Well, if you had been watching me closely, you would have noticed I dipped my index finger into the urine, but I licked my middle finger!"

Phil Hellmuth Presents Read 'Em and Reap. Copyright © by Joe Navarro. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Phil Hellmuth Presents: Read 'Em and Reap: A Career FBI Agent's Guide to Decoding Poker Tells 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being able to read other player's body language is very important in poker. Until recently, Mike Caro's book was the only book available on the subject. Now there are numerous books on poker tells, and this book is by far and away the best of the bunch. The book is very detailed and describes a lot of different tells. The book also expalins which tells are more useful, and how different tells put together can give one a better read on one's foe. It has a lot of unique tells not featured in other books. It also tells the reader how to disguise one's own tells, which is also very important. The book could have used some charts to summarize the information better, and it could also have had some practice examples to help one put the tells to good use. Finally, the book did have some tells that are sort of obvious, but its better to be safe than sorry. Besides these defects, the book was very helpful and informative. It took Mike Caro's book to a whole new level. I recommend it to anyone serious about poker, especially tournament no-limit. In closing, I would be suprised if the previous reviewer actually read the book. He's right that Hellmuth's Play Like the Pros isn't very good, but this book has little to do with Phil Hellmuth. Hellmuth only writes the preface and a couple of examples from his own experience. It's not really a 'phil hellmuth' book.In sum, This book is THE book on poker tells, period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book especially for avid poker players. It is the type of book that the more times you read it the more info you get from it. "Tells" are an important part of playing poker so read, read, read and learn.
Diego_N More than 1 year ago
This is a good, comprehensive book on the value of reading your opponents at the poker table and how to pick up on tells. After reading it, I went straight to a cash game and was amazed by the amount of accurate information this book laid out. Sometimes you have to coax that information out by talking to a player who has just made a move on you, but if/when they respond they typically do one, if not more of the telling things highlighted in this book. If you want to get better, I recommend reading it sooner rather than later. *full disclosure-- i lost money at the cash game. But I believe that was because I focused more on the high confidence tells than the low ones. So I knew when I was beat and able to fold quickly, but when we were both in the hunt it wasn't as easy to spot. Which means, I'm reading this book again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book written by a former FBI agent who used in his career the same skills that we use at the poker table to decipher the truth. It gives you very no nonsense tools to use to figure out the strength of your opponent's hand, and why it is almost impossible to disguise some of these tells as it is deeply rooted in our basic survival mechanisms. THe only problem with the book is that you can't recommend it to your friends lest they use the newfound information against you next Friday night. Buy this book, unless that is you are in MY Friday night that case pass on it.
armyofbobs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ton of fluff, but there are some useful tips in here. After I read the book, I looked up and there was poker on the TV, and within minutes I'd spotted a tell on a pro - not bad!
tthaas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent, well explained "field guide" to poker tells. Navarro explains, not only WHAT the tell would be, but WHY it works (90% of the time, it's the limbic system). It easily paid for itself the first session I played after buying it; Navarro's "foot tell" kept me from calling a $20 bet that I would have lost. The only downside is that the book doesn't have as many pictures as I would like, and they aren't quite as easy to spot the tells in as I would have preferred. Still, even if the book had no photos at all, it would be worth the buy.
PossumisHLJ More than 1 year ago
Easy to read, well written. Images could be better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recipient very pleased with gift.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is another one of Phil's terrible poker books. There is nothing useful in this book that will help you in a real game. Don't waste your money. I have 4 of his books and they are full of useless stories about his favorite poker player, himself. The only book that mentions Phil that is worth reading is listed below.