• A Tale of the False Tell

    Date: 2005.04.04 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    In October 2000, during a hand in the Taj Mahal Casino’s No Limit Hold’em Championship, I was dealt a pair of fours. With the blinds at $100-$200, four players, including me, called the bet.

    With a flop of Qh-4s-2d in the community cards, I checked with my nearly unbeatable hand, two other players checked, and then Men “the Master” Nguyen bet out $600. I quickly decided to use my best false tell as I raised the pot up $1,200.

    A “false tell” is a manufactured motion, movement, speech pattern, or simply the way you move the chips into the pot, which sends a subtle signal to your opponents that you are strong when you are weak, or weak when you are strong.

    A good time to use a false tell would be during a key pot — a big hand or one that you really want to manipulate others in. Overuse of the false tell will cause people to evaluate you differently and thus render the tactic ineffective in the future.

    Back to the action: I was ready to pull out my best false tell in order to manipulate Nguyen and the other players into paying me the most chips with my extremely powerful hand. About one hour earlier I had made a nice-sized bluff, and after I was called, I committed to memory all of the motions that I had made during the bluff. Now against Nguyen, I put the chips in the same way, I talked in the same manner, I leaned back the same amount, and finally I looked right at Nguyen just like I had earlier.

    Nguyen took the bait and called the $1,200 raise. The next card was the 6s for a board of Qh-4s-2d-6s, and I decided to bet the same percentage of the pot that I had during my last bluff. I wagered $2,500, again, with all of the same mannerisms I had used during my real bluff. Nguyen called the $2,500 and I decided to bet $4,000 on the end if a safe card came up.

    The 9h looked like the safest card in the world to me, and I followed through with my plan of betting $4,000 with all of the false-tell mannerisms intact. I was now praying for a call from Nguyen when I noticed he was thinking of raising me. After some wavering, he merely called my $4,000 bet, and I confidently flipped up my trip (three of a kind) fours, and waited for the pot to be pushed to me. After a few seconds, Nguyen flipped up his hand, a pair of nines, which had turned into a three of a kind on the last card to win the pot from me.

    Although I lost this pot, I had controlled Nguyen’s play through my false tell. If you don’t have the move in your repertoire, I highly recommend you add it soon.

    When you do you want to use a false tell?
    a) Every time you bluff.
    b) In a big pot.
    c) 50 percent of the time you bluff.
    d) When you have a powerful hand.

    b) Use a false tell sparingly, and when the stakes are high