How Beginners Can (Sometimes) Beat Pros at Poker



In this post, I’ll show you how Phil Gordon trained me in 5 days to have a fighting chance against pro poker players. Here’s the video teaser.

Before we filmed the experience for The Tim Ferriss Experiment (currently the #1 TV Season on iTunes), I had never played a hand of poker.

Phil’s crash course purposefully did not cover all the bases. It couldn’t. We didn’t have the time.

Instead, his program (and this post) will show how a gambling idiot (me) can magnify strengths and cover weaknesses to an absurd degree…at least for a few hours in order to win real cash.

Let’s be clear: I am not a good poker player, and perhaps you aren’t either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t win.

If you understand a few principles and follow them religiously, Lady Luck (and strategic aggression) might smile upon you. Especially if you learn how to leverage “short-stack strategy” or “heads-up play,” both of which I’ll explain.

This post has three parts:

– My video explanation – This is the actual video I sent to TV post-production. I sent similar videos for all 13 episodes (parkour, the dating game, building a business, etc.) right after we finished each week. This is nuts and bolts of how Phil helped me pull off miracles.

– My real notes from my notebook – These are PDFs of the notes I explain in the aforementioned video. For a novice or intermediate, they are only really useful once you’ve watched the video.

– Phil’s one-page cheatsheet – ‘Nuff said.

– The full TV episode (preview and links)

Let’s get started on the how-to…

The Video Explanation – The Real Nuts and Bolts

I mention “VO” a few times, which stands for “voice over.” To see more of the notebook text, you can expand to full screen.

My Poker Notes (Plus Some “Escape and Evasion” Notes)

How to Play Poker – The Tim Ferriss Experiment by tferriss

Phil’s Cheatsheet

Poker Cheatsheet – From Pro Phil Gordon by tferriss

The TV Episode

Here’s the full episode (and 12 others) — check it out! If you found any of the above interesting, I think you’ll love it.

Posted on: May 10, 2015.

The Tim Ferriss Show is generally the #1 business podcast on iTunes, and it was selected for iTunes' "Best of 2015." Each episode deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. If you want to 10x your productivity, click here.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

149 comments on “How Beginners Can (Sometimes) Beat Pros at Poker

  1. I’m a busy guy, inbetween my busy schedule I have plenty of time for reading and studying poker theory. I like tournaments but I don’t have time for longer sessions of poker. What can I do, to improve my skills in tournaments, how can I practice despite my busy day? What kind of tournaments do you suggest, are there any? Greetings from Vienna. Thanks!


    • Hi Patryk,

      Tim’s video is a nice intro for an absolute amateur…it’s essentially a very watered-down version of poker fundamentals as channeled by a former pro (phil) who is very behind today’s games.

      There’s many resources I can recommend–Google is your friend here. The forums at TwoPlusTwo are probably the best way to dive in, as it’s one of the center of the poker community (don’t know how many members they have, but it’s one of the largest forums of any kind on the internet.) Also, look around for training sites like TournamentPokerEdge, DeucesCracked, RunItOnce, but makes sure you review them first so you can find your best fit.

      Hope that helps.


  2. Best tip – I had a coach who was obsessed with old quotes and the one we heard the most was a quote from Gretzky’s dad. “Don’t go to where the puck is, go to where the puck will be.”
    Coach used it for everything, even for our football conditioning. Didn’t mean anything at first, but it was so simple and after hearing ten times a day at practice you remember to go where they’re gonna be.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My best poker tip is to read the Mental Game of Poker, by Jared Tendler. Anyone can learn the mathematics and mechanics of the game. Anyone can put in enough hard work to get better at the “poker” parts of the game. Yet, if your mental game isn’t strong, you will falter. I say this as a lifelong poker enthusiast and as a professional poker writer, poker note-taking app developer, and poker podcast co-host.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Actually I got two tips from you Tim! Via your books. You taught me about the concept transferable skills: learn a skill in one area, then apply it to an area that’s seemingly different. The other tip that I got from you years ago is about utilizing leverage — in my mind always phrased as: “what’s the biggest hack in x?”

    My friends bought this ridiculously complicated board game called Dominant Species, it takes about 8 hours to play. While I was playing I asked myself “what’s the biggest hack in this game?” I wasn’t seeing it at first and was getting desperate, I was dead last against my 5 opponents.

    Since most of the time a player is watching other players play, I decided to reread the rulebook. Suddenly I see an exponential point distribution and another one. I start thinking about why the game-designers put it in there, then I noticed that it unbalanced the game unless other players saw the exponential distributions as well. So I started to reframe the game as a math game. They didn’t see it though. So I won my first game just by utilizing one of those point payouts, because no one was focusing on it.

    Before I played my second game, I theorized a few things here and there. I applied graph theory, multicore processor programming, probability theory, The Mathematics of Poker (the book) and general cognitive biases. I started to dissect the pure deterministic mechanics from the game and the probabilistic mechanics from the game. Eventually I understood when and where I needed to apply a certain field of math. I leveraged almost all of my math knowledge that I learned from my computer science and psychology classes.

    I always win after 8 hour battles. It’s easy to see why as well. Compared to all my friends, I’ve got the math down better than anyone of them. After the second game they caught up with the exponential point distribution tactics I was using, so now the game is a bit tougher, but I’m still winning😉

    Transferable skills and points of amazing leverage within the game. With every game that I play I always use them. It also helps me to quickly detect if I’m going to suck at a game I’m new at.


  5. Tim, thanks so much for your generosity in sharing these materials – hope you post show note for each episode! My kids and me are wolfing down the whole series (except the dating episode!) and having interesting discussions about the skills involved. You truly are a beneficial trojan horse to advance the cause of true learning.


  6. “It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting”.
    This quote by Jesse Livermore works on many different levels, in many games/sports and is especially relevant after watching the poker episode. You don’t need to be in every hand so wait until you have the odds stacked in your favour then pounce.


      • James: I agree with Tim that this Livermore quote is fantastic.

        Reminds me of another gem from Warren Buffett – it’s about stock market investing, but applies equally to poker: “The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything–you can wait for your pitch.”

        And here’s the equally wise 2nd half of Buffett’s quote:

        “The problem when you’re a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, ‘Swing, you bum!'”


  7. Thanks Tim. This is gold. I look forward to your Parkour notes.

    I don’t how much it applies to Poker, but visualization was by far the best advice I ever received. Developing an imagery of the desired outcome gives a clear-cut path to achieve it.


  8. I learned in chess “If you don’t see a good move, look for your opponent’s good moves and play to that”. Applies to lots of games, and life situations, and just makes my day easier to think about what my teachers/family/co-workers motivations are.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Best tip I’ve ever received: “Keep it playful.” It applies to everything and keeps my head in the right space.


  10. My best game/sports tip I ever got:

    The strategy of playing “not to lose” is a fools errand. Always go in to win with a cohesive strategy that synergieses the strengths and advantages you have/choose to field. That does not discount attrition as a viable strategy, but attrition needs an endgame where you take control and sweep.


    When I was a teenager, I used to compete at the Pokemon video games at a high level (4th in nintendo official magazine pokemon tournament etc). The Pokemon games share alot of similiarities to Poker and Chess, especially the era I played in (Gen 3, 386 OU play). Your team consists of 6 Pokemon where you choose each of there 4 moves, distribute stat points, give each a held item that has battle effects and choose which pokemon leads the battle. Predicting your oponents strategy and team, figuring out which pokemon your opponent has and baiting/phising information about your opponents team in early game dictates late game. As a turn based game, Pokemon is like chess, but where you choose your pieces. Building your team really depended on current metagame and what compromises you were willing to make: adding a point of speed to outspeed your oponent on an equal speed tier would take a point away from another stat, which pushed other percentages harder to make.

    The variety of strategies viable was wide enough to allow you to surprise, whilst more standard teams were more likely to overall win tournaments especially with swiss tournament rules: therefore creativity was encouraged whilst a strong cycle of metagame vs. anti-metagame naturally developed rather than just pure chaos.

    I am a musician now, but I recieved a huge education mentally from being obsessed with Pokemon to the point of getting deeply into this stuff: damage calculations led to learning much complex mathematics; learning to think long term strategies through a match and play psycological games to lead the opponent to play certain strategies I wanted them to as they played into the Pokemon I had remaining vieled.

    The later generations made the game very quick and aggressive/offensively based, whilst gen 3 (2002-2006ish) when I played, was really wide open in terms of strategy: from aggressive goodstuffs, to stall and attrition, to extremely synergised teams (based off of weather, setting up a baton pass chain etc etc.).

    It also of course gave me self-beleif: I could rank highly at something given the obsession. The obsession is now a canon: what do I aim it at next?


  11. The best tip that I have received is simple; you don’t get rich, betting like a bitch.
    This can be applied not only to poker, but almost any sport/game out there. If you are not putting 110% full throttle concentration, confidence and effort, then you are betting like a bitch, and wont get rich(results). period.


  12. Poker like many card games has many statistics to watch and observe. The one that I always apply before going to a game with friends or at a casino is that I want to play at minimum 20-60 hands based on the type of play. It forces down any tendencies to play ‘hunches’ or emotional ego bets and puts my mindset to play for the long game. Combine that with the regimen of looking for exploitable hands to your favor, let’s me last longer into games than most of the players around me.

    Been a fan for a while Tim, keep up the great work.


      • Same thing down here in Australia. I feel like we are missing out on all the fun, with your TV show being available in the US, but not here (yet).
        Hope you wade through the red tape, and open your adventure up to the rest of the world soon!


      • The day movie networks/studios (particularly in the US) realise that they’re doing everything the wrong way I’ll be one happy camper. All they do right now is encourage piracy, because Europeans literally are without any option to watch most of the content. Legal streaming services are a step in the right direction, but again restricted by country and new episodes are sometimes slow to appear.

        Same with talk-shows, I used to love Craig Ferguson but no channels in Denmark showed it an the official website was geo-restricted. My only grace was somebody illegally uploading all episodes to YouTube. Or I could use VPN software to pretend to be American.

        It really confuses me why CBS don’t just offer a $30 a month or whatever high-quality stream per program. For a daily show that’s very affordable and they could even sell additional advertising spots to companies. Hey Coke we’ve got 200k foreigners subscribed to our Craig Ferguson streaming service, do you want to spend a few million with us?

        One would figure a pay on demand service like iTunes or Amazon would be perfect for a network to offer a paid option, like you’re doing for the American audience, but they’d rather not offer anything and then get 0 sales and to top it off have people pirate it instead.

        Not to mention alienating people for making it so hard to access in the first place.

        Sorry for the rant. It’s just incredible how stupid the industry seems, considering the amount of money flowing around.

        Thanks for your answer and I hope maybe one day to get to see your show.


      • Hi
        I’m in the same situation (I live in France). I found yabusame experiment on youtube (very interesting, my wife is japanese) but that’s it…
        Do you have any idea how many people would like to watch these in Europe ?


    • Chris there is a solution that in this case is a grey area, if you not have to pay to see in the original country and you don’t have a way of seeing it (paying or not) you just use torrent or a proxy.


  13. The best sporting tip I was ever told and possibly the greatest piece of advice I could pass on. “Be the best at the things that take no skill.” Simple.


  14. The best tip I ever received in any sport was from my dad.

    When my dad was a kid, he was studying to become a professional chess player. In elementary school, he played chess for a team at the US State Department where my grandfather worked. He was impatient and playing older opponents, some chess champions. Time moves different for an eight year old, than an eighty year old, and he had to train himself to think every move through rather than acting impulsively.

    In order to make sure he didn’t blunder, my dad would sit on his hands to keep from acting too quickly. Before he’d move, he’d ask himself four questions:

    1) What did my opponent do?
2) What can my opponent do?

    3) What can I do?

    4) What should I do?

    Most novice players jump to the fourth, and take the first good move they see, but by slowing his process down and asking each question like a checklist he’d see what his opponent was setting him up for, and every possible approach he had to counter it.

    Of course these four questions are a good checklist not just for chess but for any decision in business or life. My dad ended up going into financial planning instead of becoming a professional chess player because as he put it “financial planning is a lot like chess, but the prize money is better.”

    P.S. If you do an investing episode in The Tim Ferriss Experiment season 2, I’d like to nominate my dad as a teacher. He’s trained several advisers from zero investing experience to pros. When I asked him if he though he could teach you financial planning in three days, he said, “sure, but what would we do for the other two?” I think he might have been serious. His website:

    P.P.S. Loved the poker episode. Texas Hold’em is our family sport. You guys nailed it.


  15. All this stuff is gold. I really wished you could have focused more on presentation. Each episode could have been a 90min to 2hr documentary. TFX was too short to give it justice and too technical for light surface watching. No idea why you chose that spot.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “it cost bricks to play chess”
    “play to win. don’t play to not lose”
    “8/10 times people don’t show hands in poker, it’s more about how you play your chips”
    I like to play a lot of small sit&go’s just to get a natural idea of what kind of hands i should call and fold.
    it’s also funny to see how everybody els is playing, to learn the tellings.


  17. I’ll leave one poker tip and one Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tip. (Your show is covering a lot of my favorite hobbies-thanks for that!)

    For Poker, I’m paraphrasing, and am not sure the first time I heard this-Always know why you are betting. More specifically: if you’re value betting, have an idea of what second best hands could be out there that will call your bets; If you are bluffing, have an idea of what better hands your opponent could have that he might fold. (If you make a ‘value bet’ that only better hands than yours will call, it’s not a value bet!)

    For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I’m going to give a tip that I think my coach, Mauricio ‘Tinguinha’ Mariano, first told me. When playing the guard, keep your opponent in the ‘middle range.’ If you let your opponent get too close, he will crush through your guard with a pressure pass. If you let your opponent get too far away, he’ll run around your guard with a distance pass. The middle space, where your opponent has trouble advancing or retreating, is best for the guard player. (Conversely, if we’re passing guard, we want to get very close to the bottom player, or pretty far away.)

    These are both pretty sport specific, but helped me a lot.


  18. I really like the breakdown for decision making and those heuristics that are then put into place. Wish I was able to watch the full episode. Anyone know how to get access in the UK? Not having much luck with Itunes.


  19. If there are any field hockey players out there, to get the best from the umpire and have him/her stay on your side, always remember to appeal by making eye contact and saying their first name when you speak to them so they see it as an inquiry not a complaint, bit of human psychology is always useful when you need to convince the ref


  20. Excellent post and follow-up comments – I love games that are mixture of strategy and chance like Poker and Risk – I guess because they most resemble real life.

    One of the best tips related to games I ever got was from W. Timothy Galway’s wonderful book “The Inner Game of Tennis”.
    ‘Use outside models in your learning, but don’t let them use you. Natural learning is and always will be from the inside out, not vice versa. You are the learner and it your individual, internal learning process that ultimately governs your learning.’ W. Timothy Gallwey, “The Inner Game of Tennis”

    You learn poker first and foremost by playing poker. Books about poker can be extremely helpful but to ultimately get really good at poker (or any game or anything else) you have to develop your own style, reflective of your own strengths and weaknesses, through observation and practice.
    Since trading was mentioned I’ll also quote Jesse Livermore ‘The market taught me the market.’


  21. The best tip I ever got for a game was actually for Poker.

    Someone explained to me the simple concept of EV or Expected Value. Using this concept I proceeded to always raise my blinds in Texas Hold-Em.

    Result? I acquire a tidy pile of chips from other people’s blinds. Led to me winning a few poker games. Good booze money for a student.


  22. Having trouble at high levels? Work on fundamentals. Can’t do a flying spinning roundhouse? Work on stances and basic kicks. Tripping over yourself sparring? Practice core techniques like block and counter or touch-control-hit or simple, effective footwork.

    When you become stuck on the particulars of advanced techniques, make a point of going back to and continuing to strengthen the foundations on which all of those things are built.


  23. ‘Your never as good as you think you are on your best day, and your never as bad as you think on your worse”.

    Advice courtesy of a BJJ black belt. He also was a certified hostage negotiator, and a former rodeo rider.


  24. Wow! You hit this one out of the ballpark Tim!

    The best tip I’ve received isn’t for a game or sport, but about how the creative process works, especially for writing and creating music.

    SEPARATE the creative process and the critical/editing process. Never try to do them simultaneously. It’s a recipe to keep you blocked creatively.


  25. My best tip is related to clay pigeon shooting. I consistently missed every shot until my best friend’s dad told me to imagine legs dangling in-front and below of the clay pigeon as it traveled and target the tip of the legs. This way you account for the lead and the recoil. I immediately hit both clays. Result!
    (Bonus poker-related tip: don’t get emotionally attached to hands, especially pocket pairs)


  26. I have played no limit Hold ’em in Vegas from time to time and was absolutely amazed by the TV Show and bonus material. The big two for me was your timing first, and your ability to overcome your pocket aces “tell” early on second. Owning a sporting goods store in a small town in Idaho near a world renowned Tactical Shooting Facility I can’t wait to utilize #TFX material to show what a quick study I am. Thanks again Tim for the best thing about television since fast forward!


  27. People aren’t bluffing as much as you think they are. When I first started playing I thought I was being bullied because I was a girl. Once I was able to get over that emotion poker became easier.


  28. My bridge teacher set a clear intention, “I will not teach you to play bridge, I’ll teach you how to WIN at bridge.” The sole focus of our lessons was what we now would call hacks. She too provided a cheat sheet I still reference, since I don’t play very often. I have no idea about all the rules of bridge, only the KPIs.


  29. The best tip, or rather mind set, I’ve ever received related to competition is from Joshua Waitzkin’s book “The Art Of Learning.” (Thanks Tim for the creating the audio-book, finally allowed me to finish the book during my morning commute to work🙂

    “we cannot calculate our important contests, adventures, and great loves to the end. The only thing we can really count on is getting surprised. No matter how much preparation we do, in the real tests of our lives, we’ll be in unfamiliar terrain. Conditions might not be calm or reasonable. It may feel as though the whole world is stacked against us. This is when we have to perform better than we ever conceived of performing. I believe the key is to have prepared in a manner that allows for inspiration, to have laid the foundation for us to create under the wildest pressures we ever imagined.”
    Joshua Waitzkin, “The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence”

    I grew up with the mentality that if you can’t win don’t bother competing. I used to believe that winners are able to plan and execute every detail of their strategy flawlessly and that in the end the best strategy will come out on top.
    I’ve come to realize that this is not always the case. When Joshua Waitzkin describes his mastery of chess and tai chi, he highlights the moments of uncertainty, the scores of variables and the losses he endured to reach the top. Ultimately, these are the very things that pushed him to the top, being able to experience every variation of a challenge enough to understand the root principals behind it! What’s more is that he always focused on those things that he could control (the Self, breathing, the mind) even within the most chaotic of scenarios.

    I am now beginning to learn that the truly elite are those who are the most flexible, who focus on the conceptual principals and apply strategies almost instantly to any new obstacle. These are the performers who excel and are inspired by new challenges because they have prepared the tools needed succeed.

    I’ve picked up and quit the martial arts multiple times over the past 10 years. It has always started and ended the same:1. initial excitement over learning a new skill 2.exasperation over the breath of material needed in order to “master” the skill, 3.intimidation from better, more experienced martial artists 4. Quitting after making the assessment that I don’t have the time, or the natural skill to master all the components of the art.

    With his book Joshua Waitzken has inspired me to re-start my journey into the martial arts because he has demonstrated top performance is about depth of understanding not breath.


  30. All of the episodes in your show are pure gems. I love seeing the raw materials of the shows as well (like you did with this post on Poker.) If you end up releasing more of it, that would be awesome. Thanks for everything Tim!


  31. Thank you for doing this! Keep up the great work.

    Tiger Woods (mid-Prime) hired a swing coach who wrote a book on the experience. He said Tiger would hit 10 shots on the driving range, then sit. Asked what he was doing, Tiger replied “I’m thinking about what I just did.”

    Also, forget being well rounded. Find your strength, exploit your strength, leverage your strength and be the best at what you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What I Learned From Teaching Tim

    Hi. I had the great pleasure of spending 5 solid days teaching Tim to play poker. Here are a few of the many things I learned during the week:

    Tim had a clear goal in mind at the start of the week — we had worked out the “challenge” ahead of time. I put together a comprehensive training plan that would prepare him as fully as possible in the time allotted, but only if he did the work. He put in 50+ hours of long, hard work heading into the matches.

    TIM’S Lesson: Visualize the goal, form a plan, then put in the work.

    Tim started “tabula rasa” — a completely blank slate. That was interesting, as I’ve rarely had to start with “1 pair, 2 pair, 3 of a kind” with a student — by the time I get my hands on students, they usually have a fair understanding of the game (with the notable exception of some of the celebrities that came to play on my TV show, Celebrity Poker Showdown… Dennis Rodman — looking at you).

    TIM’s Lesson: When you start from scratch, you don’t have any bad habits to break or preconceptions that cloud your learning. Learn great fundamentals and you can cover up a lot of the nuanced aspects of whatever you’re trying to learn.

    Poker is a game that is a perfect blend of math and psychology. Interestingly, Tim had more trouble with the math part than I had expected. So, we worked around it. Together, we found some shortcuts and “hacks” that simplified the stuff he was having trouble with, and we went deeper in the areas where he was most confident and proficient in an effort to compensate.

    TIM’s Lesson: Don’t suffer and kill yourself trying to master things you simply aren’t cut out for — look for ways to PLAY YOUR OWN GAME and make it your own. If you suck at one part of the game, do enough to get by, and excel and dive deeper in the other parts.

    Tim was an excellent student and took instruction brilliantly. My goal was to build his skills incrementally and bring him “small wins” in each step of the process. I also let him tell me when he was ready to move on. Before each new section, Tim asked me to state clearly what we were about to tackle, why it was important, and how the skill fit into the larger picture.

    TIM’s Lesson: Framing something you’re learning is essential to not wasting time. Because he knew what we were tackling and why, he could effectively let me know when he was ready to move on.

    As I said earlier, we put in some incredibly long hours. 12+ hours a day for 4 solid days. Then, more poker talk over dinner/wine. But, here’s the thing — Tim’s incredible crew put in these hours too — without a single complaint, harsh word, or hiccup. I’ve been on hundreds of TV/movie sets in my life, and I’ve never seen a crew as competent or work as hard. It was clear that the crew really cared about their CRAFT. It was also clear that they really cared about Tim.

    TIM’s Lesson: Everything worth tackling is tackled as part of a team. Treat your coworkers with respect. Hire the best you can. Give experts room to be experts and self-manage. Collaboration is the key. And, be nice. That seems trite, I know, but I can tell you for sure that Tim’s genuineness and friendliness are the show’s (and Tim’s) biggest asset.

    I had a blast. Want to chat more about the show? Come and chat with me at

    Phil Gordon

    Liked by 1 person

  33. best tip I got for poker is: don’t be sad or happy about the end of a hand. In the moment you go all in or you bet you should have the better odds to win or at least positive pot odds.

    What I mean is and that is something a lot of beginners do: For example they have 27 and fold that preflop, but the flop turns out to be 277. A lot of (beginning) players would be sad because they could easily win a big b pot with the nuts. But they are angry for no reason. They did the best possible decision preflop because the odds of getting something with 27 are too small.
    Other scenario is if you go all in and you don’t have the best hand or the best odds to win at that moment. Even if you win you shouldn’t be too happy. You should analyze why you did such a stupid call ( I don’t mean situation where fold equity could play a major role too).


  34. WoW that is extremely good!

    To be honest, few months back I was a complete noob at poker.
    Just like you i have never played a single hand even though most of my mates were poker players and some of them were actually making a living out of it.

    I started playing poker because I felt I good probably make some money and stayed at it because I loved the game.

    Just like you I actually got free poker training and all the resources that i could imagine from PokerVIP and if anyone is interested enough to learn descent poker I suggest they first check their poker strategy articles beforehand ( )

    You are an inspiration mate! Keep going!!!!



    I heard Tony Robbins say this idea about business, yet this phrase pulses through my thoughts during every TRX, kickboxing, and boot camp class. I tell myself the only reason I’m standing in a class is to make each kick snap back quicker, hold my core tighter, pinch my shoulder blades closer, jump higher, and land lower. This tip powered my workouts up several notches. Yet, I can apply this tip to everything, including business, cooking, conversations, and sex. Put this idea to the test!


  36. Hi Tim, Robyn here in Hobart, Tasmania – Australia. I have tried and tried to get iTunes to let me buy your Experiment tv series, but it is not co-operative. I am writing to ask that if I download it from elsewhere, how I can send you some money for it, as I have received a lot of benefit from your works and firmly believe in paying for what I use. So – how can an Aussie send you some $$$???


  37. Please forgive me for this Tim and team but I am a big fan of your work and I got the chance to see you when you gave a talk for Alternatives in London a couple of years ago when promoting 4 Hour Chef. I wanted to download the Tim Ferriss Experiment in full HD and was told that it’s not available in the UK and the US won’t accept my ITunes account. I don’t know how much extra work and cost it would be but would it be possible to make it available to the UK fans? Much love and respect. Nick


  38. Tim,

    Enormous thanks for posting these notes and your video description. I was excited to see this as the poker episode was one of the ones I found most satisfying to learn from at home. Phil’s tips seem wise and focused and you seem to have arranged them into an effective web of principles that can handle a lot, and well.

    Here’s one of my favorite tips:

    “Aim small, miss small.”

    This is actually from the movie The Patriot (Mel Gibson is teaching his sons how to shoot British soldiers — aim for a single button on their chest), but it applied in my life to pitching in baseball. Aim for a tiny spot, so that if you miss, it may still be close to where you want it. Shrink your mental margin of error and strive for an absurd level of perfection so that your bad days, your bad plays, your mistakes, are still excellent.

    Looking forward to the next round!



  39. Here is 80/20 for CrossFit in 38 words:

    “Combine 2-3 exercises, 10-20 reps per exercise, 3-5 rounds, always choose multijoint movements. Combine bodyweight, weightlifting and cardio. Make workouts last 5-20 minutes and be as fast as possible or do as many as possible in assigned time.”

    You will improve much faster on this than exercising blindly in gym.


  40. Hi Tim. I love everything you produce. That being said, as a professional poker player with over $6,000,000 in live winnings, I must let you know that blindly following a chart is not the best way to get legitimately good at poker. While there are times to use a chart (mainly when your opponents are world-class and the stacks are short) they leave a ton of money on the table against almost all players. I made this short video explaining my thoughts. I wish you infinite success in everything you do.


    • Jonathan,

      I can assure you, he wasn’t just “following a chart” — but you have to admit that for new players, giving them something to key off of makes sense. We started at 1-pair, 2-pair… long way to go from there to playing good players heads up without a few shortcuts along the way!

      Phil Gordon


    • Thanks very much, Jonathan! Really wonderful to see you here. I’ll dig into your video and really appreciate you commenting. Much obliged and hope to bump into you some day soon.

      Pura vida,



    • I’m glad you weighed in Jon. The game is evolving so quickly, and there are many ways to learn, even for rank beginners.


  41. My tips would be:

    1) If you’re playing low-limit poker or even lower-stakes no-limit, it doesn’t pay to bluff because bad hands are not folded as often by most people at the table; which means too many people will be in the hand, and they will catch river cards. Play only solid hands.

    2) For sports like football, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, soccer (footbol), or anytime you need to defend someone else. The best way to be successful in tackling a runner, or stopping them defensively is to watch their hips. Don’t be distracted by where they are looking, what their upper body is doing or anything else. If you need to check, tackle or neutralize them, wherever their hips point is where their body can go forward. Focus on the hips.


  42. It’s really interesting to see how much interest there is here about this topic…I’m actually a poker coach who specializes in Heads Up Poker and teaches people how to make $1,000/month playing heads up sit and gos online. Overall, it was pretty cool to see how Phil Gordon broke this down for you as a pure beginner. If you’re interested, I’d be more than happy to take you into much deeper concepts if you want to purse this any further. Good luck!


  43. In baseball, when playing infield start at least 5 steps back from your terminal position. As the pitcher is delivering the ball creep up and right before he hits his release point do a little hop. This will keep you fluid and ready to react.


  44. Some of the best advice I ever got actually came from Phil Gordon himself. “Back in the day”, Phil had a company called Expert Insights. One of the products that they produced was a poker DVD called “Final Table Poker”. As an avid tournament poker player, I immediately snapped it up. I found it very helpful and useful and it contained alot of great information on tournament play. One of the things that really stuck with me was the concept of inflection points. Inflection points are simple things like bust outs, bed beats, successful or unsuccessful hero calls, bluffs, etc. to name but a few of the obvious ones. These are points within the poker tournament that we all see, but rarely deal with on a deeper level. At least a level and in terms that we can (and should) exploit. This one single concept in paying more attention to the dynamics of the table and having a strategy to exploit them (via action or conscious inaction) paid for the cost of the DVD many, many times over. Using it, I was able to cash very well in my first World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2006 (to the point where it paid for the whole trip). I also took down a very nice score at a daily tournament at the Sahara…and others. But more importantly, it helped to give me a life strategy. This was, as Tim might appreciate, a “hack” that is easily carried over to every day life. Business situations, personal interactions, etc. I am now always looking for these inflection points with an eye to position myself for the best possible outcome. Because of this, I pay more attention. It requires me to be more “Zen-like” as I have to be present in each moment. The results of this, I think, have made be a better person…from a single piece of poker advice. I took a long break from the tables to focus on business. I am just getting back into it and will be taking a business trip to Vegas that will include at least one good session of Hold’em. I know I will be using inflection points and other things I have learned for Phil. And who knows? Maybe a good coaching lesson before I head out? I’m still a 1%’er Phil…I hope to make another contribution after this next trip!


  45. I’ve written 9 poker strategy books, but if I had to boil them down to one tip, it would be this. “Where there is risk, there is also opportunity for advantage. Most players mistakenly try to limit their risk. If you run headfirst toward the risk, that’s where you will find your edge.”


  46. Game selection is crucial. In a cash game, you want to pick a table where you’re the best player, or at least to the left of the best player. In tournaments you want to pick the best format in terms of starting stack, length of rounds, rebuy or freezout. And of course , buyin amount. Pick formats where you have an edge. I spend a lot of time each month doing that .


  47. Tip for Chess: When you play someone higher rated, trade pieces.

    This past weekend we just returned from US Chess Federation National Elementary Championship. My kids (11,7, and 4) all competed at the tournament. This advice was given to us because when you play a tougher opponent by trading pieces it reduces the number of complexities and things to watch out for. It proved to useful as I felt my kids as a whole had one of their best chess outings.

    Tim, on a personal note, been following you for the past 5 years. I run a small engineering testing service business in the Silicon Valley area. After I read your first book, I tried to implement processes and procedures to automate much of the actions. Lots of places to improve but definitely giving me a different mindset and learning to increase my effectiveness. If you are ever interested, you have an open invitation to our lab. Although it is not testing human effectiveness, I think you might be interested – it is testing products and how to make it robust. Again, thanks for all that you share and write!!


  48. Best tip- “Learn from the top 1% of people. Ignore the people who know just enough to be dangerous (Tai Lopez calls them dilletants). When you come across a top performer listen and do everything they say. Assume your wrong instead of them.”


  49. The best tip I’ve ever gotten was when I first started playing lacrosse. I was new to the game and on a team with seasoned athletes who had lived this sport since they were 12. My coach told me to look at a player’s hips, as the rest of their body would follow where those led. Apparently looking at someone’s face/eyes was more deceptive than I had thought. It may seem like common-sense advice to many, but it opened up my mind and I’ve never forgotten it. It taught me to take a step back and examine life from different angles.


  50. How to score almost every time:

    In high school, my ice hockey team’s goalie coach gave me one tip that led to me scoring many more goals in my junior year of high school; I went from a few-goals-a-year-player to one of the top scorers that season (I got a hernia the next year and after surgery wasn’t the same on the ice).

    The tip: instead of planning your move or focusing on where you’re going to shoot the puck, watch the goalie and make him make the first move, force him to make a mistake.

    The biggest change from this one tip was that I started to view goal scoring (or in this case, goal stopping) from the goalie’s perspective. Instead of thinking how I could get the puck past him, I thought about how I would make the save as the goalie in different scenarios. This helped me break down different scoring attempts into how easy they were to be stopped, or conversely how likely they would score.

    Over time (most of my sophomore year), I developed a single technique that worked 90+% of the time. When going one on one with the goalie (ie., a penalty shot or a breakaway), I would approach at a specific angle, freeze the goalie by dipping my shoulder when I was 5 ft out (goalies think you’re about to shoot so they get into their ready position), then I would cut across in front of the crease bringing the puck from my forehand to my backhand (the goalie needs to get across the crease to stay in front of the puck so they will take a sideways step leading with their outer leg, leaving a temporary hole between their outer leg and their stick blade), and while the goalie is in a vulnerable spot I quickly sneak the puck in through the fivehole.

    This technique takes advantage of a weakness in a guideline almost all goalies are taught – stay in front of the puck. It works so well that after I perfected it, I could even tell my goalie in practice that I was going to do this move and I would still score. There’s was literally nothing he could do about it. (He later developed a response which was poking the puck away from me, before I got close enough, but I developed a counter to that as well).


  51. Too many amazing coaches and mentors to pick one tip from everything, so I’ll say the best tips I ever got for poker (which is my AL TIME FAVORITE strategy game).

    1. Follow the money. Bets are about 3.7 million bajillion times more informative than eye twitches or bulging neck veins.
    2. Pay attention to the flow of the game, not just the hand you’re on. Ride your waves all the way into shore when you catch them, and sometimes get out of the way when someone else catches one.

    Thanks Tim for another great podcast and thanks Phil for the insights. I’m a longtime fan of yours.


  52. The best tip I received was in Poker. It is that the “threat” of using your stack is just as effective (or maybe more so) then actually using your stack. So if you place a nice sized bet on the turn, that may be enough to get your opponent to fold since they expect an even bigger bet on the river.


  53. Best advice I’ve ever received in any sport or in life will likely be whatever Phil Gordon tells me during our Skype call!
    Second best advice was never get into a sport purely to get girls. I failed at that one… And failed to get a girl.


  54. How to score almost every time:

    In high school, my ice hockey team’s goalie coach gave me one tip that led to me scoring many more goals in my junior year of high school; I went from a few-goals-a-year-player to one of the top scorers that season (I got a hernia the next year and after surgery wasn’t the same on the ice).

    The tip: instead of planning your move or focusing on where you’re going to shoot the puck, watch the goalie and make him make the first move, force him to make a mistake.

    The biggest change from this one tip was that I started to view goal scoring (or in this case, goal stopping) from the goalie’s perspective. Instead of thinking how I could get the puck past him, I thought about how I would make the save as the goalie in different scenarios. This helped me break down different scoring attempts into how easy they were to be stopped, or conversely how likely they would score.

    Over time (most of my sophomore year), I developed a single technique that worked 90+% of the time. When going one on one with the goalie (ie., a penalty shot or a breakaway), I would approach at a specific angle, freeze the goalie by dipping my shoulder when I was 5 ft out (goalies think you’re about to shoot so they get into their ready position), then I would cut across in front of the crease bringing the puck from my forehand to my backhand (the goalie needs to get across the crease to stay in front of the puck so they will take a sideways step leading with their outer leg, leaving a temporary hole between their outer leg and their stick blade), and while the goalie is in a vulnerable spot I quickly sneak the puck in through the fivehole.

    This technique takes advantage of a weakness in a guideline almost all goalies are taught – stay in front of the puck. It works so well that after I perfected it, I could even tell my goalie in practice that I was going to do this move and I would still score. There was literally nothing he could do about it. (He later developed a response to it, which was to go on the offensive, but I quickly developed a counter to that).


  55. I can’t believe no one has shared this sage advice I first heard as a kid:

    “You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”
    🙂 Looking forward to watching the episode- I’ve watched several of the others and they’ve been fantastic!


  56. Rolette wheel:
    Bet 2 of the 3 rows same bet everytime. Once you lose double your bet each time till you win again and return to your normal bet.


  57. The best poker/business tip I ever received was from Billy Murphy. He said the greatest thing that made him successful in professional poker was to calculate expected value (or as he calls it EV). He defined EV as the sum of all possible values for a random variable, each value multiplied by its probability of occurrence, i.e. what he could expect to win. If EV was negative he would fold if EV was positive then he would bet. It does not matter how “risky” something seemed, as long as you go with +EV decisions, you will win in the long run. Once he quit professional poker, he then took this mindset to into business where it has many applications (investments, products launches, etc.). I leave you with a quote of his that has applications to every game..

    “Play to win, don’t play not to lose. Playing not to lose actually increases the chance that you will lose.”
    -Billy Murphy



  58. Hi everybody, It is great to learn something everytime, it is one of the real pleasures in life and it is great to watch Tim Ferris be an example of Meaningful learning, I imagine that it feels so good when him got some results or at least know having tried by himself, for me that is true inspriration to transpirate🙂. It is sad to know that people from other contries diferent to USA are not able to buy the videos, but I trust that will fixed.

    One of the best advices or tips that I have heard about poker is “When two tigers fight, one will get injured”.

    I liked most the last motto “If he can do it you can too”

    Best Regards


  59. Best Tip Ever Received:
    Never Give Up!

    Sounds simple, right? There are many times when people fall short when they could have succeeded if only they didn’t give up to early.

    This tip was shared with me by my economics teacher who competed in dog agility competitions. During competitions, she would see competitors give up in their agility routine when small errors were made. They could have won, if they only would have ignored small errors (that weren’t as big of a deal as they perceived) and continued their routine, but instead they gave up early, thus ending their chances of a victory.

    When I feel that the odds are against me in a situation (sports, games, exams, life, etc.), it reminds me to give 110% effort because you never know the outcome of a situation until it is over. NEVER GIVE UP!


  60. Hi TIm,

    Best tip I ever received was on archery (I applied it to bowling, and golf, and many other “technique” sports), and inspired by readings I had done for Kyudo (Japanese archery). It blew my mind to learn that aiming for the target was not the goal – rather to simulate a perfect draw. Get the process right, and the product will be great.

    Or, said more properly by Tsugihiro Osaki (from a National Geographic article): “Don’t aim to hit the target in kyudo. You get the posture right. You get the steps right. Just let the arrow take its course.”


  61. Hey Tim, appreciate everything you share. The four hour body and the low carb diet has transformed my overall habits and mostly my facial appearance, which has caused the most dramatic change. Jan-March this year I went from 235lbs to 210lbs and have maintained my weight between 210-215lbs for the past 2 months. Only items I applied? If I have to eat “white” carbs it can only be 1 of 3 meals in a day max (if any), eggs in the first 30 min of waking up using your microwave technique, and asking for a larger water every time I order a coffee.

    My tip is for CHECKERS
    (I know, might be grade 5ish, but who cares)

    But these two components allow me to win 80-90% of the time.

    1. Make your opponent move their back 4 row of checkers off their back row before you have to – even if you have to sacrifice a checker or two to make it happen just get’er done.

    In checkers you have to jump your opponent if you have a jump available, no exceptions. So this is how you force an opponent to move a back 4 row checker. And try to Keep your back row of 4 checkers in their spots as long as possible.

    Next Level

    2. Force your opponent to jump one of your checkers, so you can jump two of theirs. Even if you can make this happen once in the game when there’s only 12 checkers to begin with – your probability increases. Once again, use the force jump rule to make this happen. Easiest at the beginning of the game when your have solid rows of checkers.

    It’s that simple. The rest will play itself out.


  62. “You’re never as good as you think you are, and you’re never as bad as you think you are.” This came from my husband, and it keeps me from getting too delusional about my skills when I’m winning and too depressed about my deficiencies when I’m losing. I would LOVE to have a one hour session with Phil!


  63. Hi Tim, i can not buy the episode, because itunes says that the material is not available in my country. I live in Germany.

    Is there an option to buy it elsewhere?

    Liked by 1 person

  64. I found that the ability to adapt is easily one of the best skills to have especially in games that that force players to test their improvisational skills.

    My days of soccer have always been spent playing defense, which basically means, I was good at getting in the way of the attacker and the goal. My main job was to contain the attacker, but when I would take possession of the ball, I became the attacker and was, then, faced with 3 choices (which are similar to most sports)


    As a defender, I was so far back in the field that I would RARELY take option 2. Now it seems like I really only have 2 options; but, Soccer allows these 2 options to be expanded even more. Am I going to juke the defender? Am I going to do a 1-2 pass? How many touches should I take? Let’s pretend I did take the option to Shoot. Am I going to chip it in? Or will I just go for the straight shot?

    I liked playing soccer for this reason. It taught me to expand upon seemingly simple decisions. It taught me that I can be a decent defender, but I was never going to be a great defender unless I can adapt to being an attacker.

    Not only did i find myself applying this lesson to other games, but I also found myself applying it to life in general. I try too look for the in-betweens rather than just the end goal. To be a successful performer, one has to realize that the journey from Point A to Point B can be and often is, non-linear.


  65. Hi Tim!
    I am more than happy to indulge myself in your varied posts, i’m an Israeli that proved that for traveling you don’t need a dime (maybe just a dame).
    I was wondering if the TV show will be available for me anytime soon.

    (Well, after checking if my first approach to contact Tim had worked, and realizing it hasn’t… I’m thinking on a new approach:
    While my first revolved around commenting on each post in a reverse chronological order. I;ll try a more explicit method.)

    I have this incredible idea, like most people…
    Yet, despite it being huge… I have no clue on how to get started.
    We share one thing in common – our life’s angle.
    You may have the money to do all you do, but i’m keeping up just fine and with no money at all.

    so, basically a platform in which ideas will be fulfilled and will serve a second income for all – ITS NAME – ZING.

    (let’s hope this one lasts more than a couple of days)


  66. I think I’m going to need to study this again. I went through it once, went to the local casino and proceeded to loose badly. Maybe some practice with a group of friends would be more my speed.


  67. Awesome stuff, love the game of poker and enjoying getting another perspective on it.

    Best sport advice I’ve ever gotten: If you can feel it, you can fix it.

    My personal athletic experience is in Olympic weightlifting, a sport centered around movements fast enough to defy conscious and thoughtful experience of them.

    What’s encapsulated in the phrase above is the idea that no matter how good your coach is, you’ll ultimately improve faster by shortening the feedback loop. The best support your coach can ever give you is to help you to shorten the time it takes you to (a) realize that something was wrong, (b) clarify what was wrong, and (c) determine what needs to be done differently. The best way to do THAT is to teach you what “better” and “worse” FEEL like. At that point, it’s just a matter of repetition of constituent pieces either inside or outside the context of the whole skill.

    It also avoids a medium full of confusion – language. No matter how good one’s coach is, they will never see the world quite as you do. They will never experience a movement or skill from the same perspective and past experiences that you have. There will always be things lost in translation. But the experience of a thing, then the experience of its opposite, then the comprehension of the distinction – this exists within the perspective of the learner and is inherently in their own “language”, though expressing it in language would fail to do it justice even in their own words.

    In the sport of weightlifting this is easily demonstrated by the fact that there are a vast selection of popular verbal cues, many of which actively contradict each other. All of them are attempting to approximate an experience that defies language. There really is nothing quite like performing an excellent snatch at maximal weight. A cue may work for one person and be a failure for another person because they are operating from different perspectives (all of them in fact fail some people and serve others). And yet all great coaches look at an exceptional lift and can agree that it is exceptional. The fact that they can’t agree on the words to use to describe why it was exceptional shows that words are inadequate to the task.

    Once you can feel the difference in the moment of a good repetition vs a bad repetition, you will be on your way. You may or may not have full control over consistent execution yet, but you’re no longer flying blind. Every repetition of the skill is a lesson communicated in YOUR language at lightning speed. In that moment, you don’t have to wait for your coach to explain anything. You don’t have to rely on clumsy explanations at all. If your coach has done their job, you’ll feel the contrast behind what you accomplished and what you were aiming at. You won’t even be able to consciously express what you feel – it’ll be too fast for that.

    Once you can feel it, you can fix it.

    And I think this applies to all skills, not just physical ones.


  68. Hi Tim, Ive been online poker pro for 6 years and Im quite surprised by your level of understanding of poker concepts given that you are completely new to this. Thumbs up for that. It needs to be said though, that this is still very basic stuff in today’s highly competetive games. Im going to present you few random general facts that may be intresting to intermediate/casual players :

    1) The vast majority of poker books are complete garbage (especially the older ones). In the past <10 years, poker strategy stuff developed so rapidly, that stuff you can read in these publications is ancient.
    Also, top notch poker knowledge/strategy isn't availible anymore. The best players keep their stuff to themselves so, unlike most other professions, if someone wants to be very good poker player, he needs to constantly work on his game by himself. rather than studying what's already out there.

    2) The vast majority of best poker players are the unknown online guys. Do you think that the best ones are these sponsored guys that you see on the TV? Think again. I will give you a proof : very recently there was a 2week long poker match between best poker pros and the best computer poker bot out there created by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburtgh. The 4 players who represented humanity were hand-picked for this challenge and they are all relatively unknown(to the public at least) online pros. Link :

    Also, when some of those celebrity poker players log in online, there is instantly a very long queue to their tables. People just consider them a weak spots. Hopefully, I won't insult Phil Gordon but he is far from an expert in modern poker days and this is common knowledge in the community, not just my opinion.

    3) There is very long way from understanding basic theory to being good player. Theory just gives you a guidelines for developing strategies and this is when all trouble begins. Even the best players have complete different approaches to some strategic problems ( I mean real problems on very advanced level)

    4) Intuition is super important and you need to develop it. It doesn't come from nowhere – you basically play hundreds of thousands of poker hands and your brain starts to recognize many common patterns in which people play. After some time, you just know what the avereage player at your stakes is doing in many situations. Given that you have to make quick decisions at poker table, this developed intuition could be your stronger asset than analytic mind. This is common problem among us poker pros – we already have both very developed intuition and strategic understanding and quite often your intuition "says" one thing and your analytic mind the other. What usually happens is we give a priority to our concious thought process and we are wrong. This is both funny and annoying.

    5) The most diffucult aspects of no-limit holdem is betsizing and effective splitting up your range of hands into smaller subgroups. Example : you raise preflop with 20% of hands,you get called and see a flop. Now, you have some hands that play best in X way, the others in Y way etc. The problem is that you can't play your hands face-up and you have to make sure that your group of hands is balanced – not weak enough that you will get always bluffed nor strong enough so your opponent will start fold hands you want him to call you with after he realizes what you are doing. And on the top of that, you need to pickup right betsizings to achieve above goals.


  69. The most useful tip I’ve ever gotten wasn’t for a game but it applies. It’s, “get out of your own head,” thinking and studying is for practice. When you’re there to play just show up and do it, you have to trust the work you’ve already put in. Also Tim, you mentioned that you purposefully didn’t cover all of the bases in this experiment. Which bases didn’t you cover, and do you have any recommendations of where to find that information?


    • Pokerstars and Full Tilt. Stay away from non-popular poker sites offering you great promotions. There already were few cases of scamming the players : basically the few sites went bankrupt and the players didn’t get their money back


  70. I really loved these videos walking through your notes, especially the analytic approach you took to learning poker: looking for rules, making generalizations, applying it to other things you know (startups). There’s a lot of research (Robert Bjork, or the book Make it Stick) that you just seem to naturally do. Can you post other videos like this if you have them?

    PS just bought 4h wk week.


  71. Best thing I’ve ever heard that really changed the way I look at life at a very young age was from the movie “Rounders”. Now this totally seems lame and cliche coming from a post about poker to drop a quote from Rounders but whatever.

    “If your too careful, Your whole life becomes a fucking grind”

    Works for poker, works for life. Every success story I’ve read has the hero taking a chance and some point in their life and turning it into a success…

    Stop thinking about taking the plunge. Just jump, you’d be surprised at how resilient you actually are when your in the thick of things.


  72. Best tip I’ve ever received? In “Monopoly”, try to get and develop the orange properties: St. James Place, Tennessee Ave, and New York Avenue. 😀 Reason: The “Jail” square is one of the most visited during gameplay, and the orange properties are nicely located one (average) roll of the dice away.


  73. Manage your risk before it manages you.

    Use Stoicism and before placing your bet quickly rehearse and think how you will feel if you lose.


  74. Tim, your content continues to inspire me. I polished off the last few episodes of TFX today, and the surfing episode really made an impact on me. I love that you were taken right to the spot where the surf would tumble you.

    “Getting comfortable with the discomfort” is a concept that will really help me right now in my life!

    BTW, I’ve started writing an eBook on tech sales – I’m taking so much inspiration from your process and making the plunge. Keep up the good work! I’ve introduced you to many coworkers and friends, and they rave about you too.


  75. Tim, you’re too smart to take one player’s opinion about an extremely complex game. Interview Blake Eastman of Beyond Tells before drawing absolute conclusions (always dangerous in poker) about tells. Communications in all walks of life are 70% non-verbal. One of my opponents routinely has very different body language when he’s bluffing. And yes, bad players use bet sizing in all the wrong ways (one kind of tell) and turn there cards face up when they don’t commit enough $$$ to a bet. Many who say tells don’t matter don’t study them and don’t understand them. Are they a huge part of my game? No. Do they help me win some pots? Yes. I also work on keeping my physical behaviors consistent. Players tend to physically place their chips differently when they’re bluffing, and throw them in acts of fake aggression to scare opponents. Simple tells have reliable meaning. Players with strong hands often shuffle their chips with great intensity. I have swallowing tells when I’m strong and rapid heart rate. These are classic, and anyone paying attention will see them. Don’t miss Colson Whitehead’s experiment with the WSOP. Phil Gordon is one player type, playing a much older style of hold ’em. Styles change. Someone like Vanessa Selbst with her fortune has taken a loose, beastly, high-risk style all the way to the bank. Thanks for sharing your experience.


    • Zach Elwood of ReadingPokerTells also has a ton of work on tells. For a more expensive overview of lots of the things pros are thinking about, check out my newest book, Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em.


  76. Tim, p.s., I’ve read Phil G. and he overcomplicates a very complex game unnecessarily. If you continue to play, give your brain over to strategist and bestselling author Ed Miller. Though he focuses on cash not ring games, he’s one of the very best. His clarity and insights are in a class of their own. Ed’s latest book is The Course, touted by some as one of the 5 best poker books ever written.