Ask Ken, 07/22/2004

Do any notable pros have obvious and exploitable tells, like scratching their head, or swearing furiously?

Today is our guest writer day. Giving you a mere introduction, I am your usual host Ken Krouner, and this is Ask Ken. Today we have a true legend of the game writing Ask Ken. It took many weeks to communicate with him while he is training with Monks in the Himalayas. Pat Chapin was able to send me his answer by Homing Yak.

Pat is going to answer a question from Jeff Till. Jeff writes:


Do any notable pros have obvious and exploitable tells, like scratching their head, or swearing furiously?


~jeff (Buffalo)

“Good question. First of all, players of all levels from the casual player to the Pro Tour veteran have some degree of tells, though obviously some more than others.

Some Examples I have seen from some of my absolute favorite pros (and friends):

1. I have caught mighty Mikey P glancing at the Counterspell in his hand when I cast a spell. As a result, I know he has one even if he doesn’t use it now.

2. I have observed the legendary Jon Finkel bite his nails when he just flopped the nuts (i.e. has the combo, the Shrapnel Blast, the Wrath, whatever).

3. Even my favorite spell slinger in the world, Eric“Danger” Taylor, must have a tell. I’m not sure how best to describe it other than I always know when he has”it” or not (and usually he doesn’t).

4. And finally, the Emperor himself, Mike Long, I present to you as unreadable. It’s more than that though. I thought the Force was strong in me, but geez, I have never been schooled as hard or as often as by him. I bet I would lose ten straight in rock-paper-scissors with Mike. When I think he has it, he doesn’t and vice versa. If I try to do the opposite of what I think because I think he is trying to trick me, I get tricked and would have been right before. Even when I play randomly, he is two steps ahead. He must have my logarithm figured out.

In a situation like this, just play the percentages.

In closing, try to look at your opponent’s face and body language, not your hand. Remember, most pros are skilled bluffers. Don’t assume that their tells are genuine. They could be using the Force on you!

The Patrick Chapin

Thanks a lot Pat, we hope you return to our world soon. That’s about all for today. Join us tomorrow when another thrilling query is answered. G’night Everybody!

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