094 – Blake Eastman – A Data Driven Approach To Poker Tells

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In this episode, Blake Eastman, founder of The Nonverbal Group, creator of Beyond Tells, and owner of The School of Cards, talks about the largest study ever conducted on the behavior of poker players. Elliot and Blake discuss how to integrate this new information into your game and why the use of tells isn’t for everyone. Listen in to hear a psychology expert share some tips and tricks that you can implement immediately to have an advantage over your live opponents.

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Time Stamped Show Notes:

[00:50] – Introducing Blake, the founder of The Nonverbal Group, creator of Beyond Tells, and owner of School of Cards

[00:55] – He was a psychology professor and now uses that knowledge and data to help people understand the use of tells in the game

[01:23] – He started playing poker in his teens and his work now combines his three main passions – poker, nonverbal behavior, and teaching

[02:25] – Blake was anti-behavior and anti-tells before, but after Beyond Tells his perspective changed

[03:06] – Information on Beyond Tells

[03:08] – It is the largest study ever conducted on the behavior of poker players; things like blink rate were recorded

[03:55] – They found that the quantitative approach is useless but the qualitative results have been game-changing

[04:22] – The poker community has been wrong about how they read tells – the results have found that qualitative patterns tell the most

[04:57] – They’ve designed frameworks and approaches to identify who to watch, when, and how so you can integrate that into your game

[05:30] – Video is necessary to analyze spots

[05:50] –Blake’s “A-ha!” moment – when he realized the data was useful and he had been wrong

[06:05] – He was in the office looking at footage and implemented the “grounding theory,” where you code the data without a hypothesis

[06:30] – He was watching a specific player and saw correlations between his hand movements and range

[06:51] – He started noticing the same thing with other players and live at the table; poker tells can be taught, they aren’t just an inherent skill

[07:30] – How Blake teaches the skill to students

[07:35] – First, students must understand and know the body can give off information, then that can be prioritized into a system

[08:00] – They can establish feedback loops for players

[09:20] – What you can pick up in a small amount of time

[09:35] – Predictive models allow for you to follow a player using common patterns

[10:27] – The system allows for you to know, not think, where another player is weak

[11:15] – Which players to read

[11:30] – It depends on the players, but is still beneficial even if you can only read one player

[12:18] – He teaches people to go after certain spots and opportunities so behaviors can define and guide as to when to make certain moves

[12:43] – Working with the greatest minds in poker

[13:05] – He doesn’t want the highest echelons knowing his techniques because he plays with them

[14:04] – On his work with Nonverbal Group and the power of perspective

[14:35] – He sees a difference between mindset and mental game; he sees mindset as an approach and mental game as on-table optimization

[14:50] – You must fix the foundation (mindset) before working on anything else

[15:35] – On the game moving fast

[15:50] – At the top it moves fast, but most games move slow; there’s a media bias and the local card room isn’t represented

[17:42] – Lower-level players are still not up to date on higher-level information about the game

[18:00] – Reading behavior and tells is for a specific kind of player, not just anyone

[19:04] – On what Beyond Tells does

[19:11] – They focus on live, no-limit Hold ‘Em and have a serious of programs depending on what the player needs, but mechanics need to be established first

[20:10] – The course is embedded with his knowledge of psychology

[23:36] – A tip for listeners: Pay attention to the hands

[23:50] – Pick one or two players and focus on their hands pre-flop; see what they do right before and right after

[24:12] – Increase your awareness

[25:15] – High-level players want to know timing tells but there are more interesting tells to analyze

[26:26] – A final tip for listeners: Embedded concealment strategies make it easier to pay attention to them

[27:00] – Blake’s plans

[27:06] – He’s going to Aussie Millions and WSOP

[27:28] – He’s learning and understanding other player’s spots; he’s using his own findings to improve his game

3 Key Points

  • The qualitative results Blake has found are game-changing.
  • You must master the foundations of poker before studying behavior and tells.
  • A player’s hands tell a lot – pick a player or two and see what their hand say.



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