Anyway, his book details (around a page or so per) the different tells he's seen throughout his career. It's quite useful - a nice update to the other useful book I've read which is quite dated at this point, Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells. Mr. Elwood goes through the tell, reasons behind the tell, reliability, things to look out for, etc. I took notes on the book awhile back, because there were some key takeaways in there.
- Acting ready to muck
I used to do this myself, having resigned to see my opponents ready to fold. It's true, though: when I knew I held the winning hand, I would signal mucking my cards prior to my opponent's completing action when facing my bet. The way I looked at my action was as a challenge or a dare for my opponent to call me. That's exactly what it is, unfortunately. It's strength on a dare. I've since stopped using this tell for my own actions, but I definitely watch out for in when my opponents do it. Quite honestly, though, I rarely see it done by my opponents.
- Aversions to lying
Mr. Elwood points out that people have an aversion to lying. Unless you're a pathological and actually enjoy lying, you try to tell the truth. After all, it's easier to tell the truth than to make up a lie. Therefore, most players will tell the truth when announcing their hands - specifically when they're announcing a precise hand. An example succinctly shows this point:
The other night I saw a guy announce to another player that he flopped a set of Kings – after the action had been 3bet by his opponent PF. His opponent, in disbelief, went ahead and open shoved all in on the flop only to be shown a set of Kings (it was a semi-interesting hand, but that’s outside of the scope of this post). Although I’m very familiar with this tell, it serves to be pointed out as a prudent tell for other players who are unfamiliar. When a player precisely declares his hand, he usually is telling the truth.
Mr. Elwood goes on to point out the example of particularly reckless or aggressive players who play a lot of hands. On occasion, they’ll declare their hands (i.e. a flop of 7 7 2 and they tell their opponents that they have 7 2, or if they suddenly declare they have AA after raising all day and night on prior hands). It is usually true when they declare these things; the declaration is so far from the truth that they’re proud to announce and believe they’re tricking their opponent into making a bad decision.
Heavy / deep breathing or high heart rate
This is such a reliable tell for all players. Most players cannot contain the excitement when they've just smacked the board. If they're betting, look out! Take a second and look at your opponent. Can you see his chest moving up & down with each breath? Are the veins in his neck pulsing like crazy? Sweating? He almost always has a monster here and can't contain the adrenaline rush that he received from knowing that he has the nuts (or close to it). I've used this time & time again to fold my better hands that can sustain heat, after realizing that these guys have top set or better.