Elwood Breaks into Publishing with Reading Poker Tells

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The cover for Reading Poker Tells

After playing poker for nearly a decade, Zachary Elwood noticed there simply wasn’t a great book about live poker tells.

So he decided to write it. 

Despite not being a big name pro, or even a hugely successful online player, Elwood released Reading Poker Tells last year and it’s since generated critical acclaim as one of the best books ever written on poker tells.

“I was always waiting for a better book on poker tells to come out,” he explained.

“I thought someone like Jennifer Harman would come out with a book about live tells but the longer I waited I realized no one was going to do it.”

Elwood had a start to poker that should sound familiar to most poker players. He began playing for small stakes while he was attending college.

Pyschological Side of Poker Always Fascinated Elwood

Elwood was in Savannah, Georgia, when he learned poker but moved to Albuquerque in 2003 and started playing higher-stakes there.

He took advantage of soft games that were running from 2004-07 (including the noteriously easy PartyPoker) and made his living from poker.

In the late 2000s Elwood moved to Portland and decided to actually attempt to write a book about live tells while working a day job.

Elwood always loved the psychological side of poker and that’s part of the reason he wanted to write a book about it.

“I think when you get into the game you have a fascination with the romantic aspect of reading people,” he said.

“The more you learn, you realize it’s more about fundamentals than soul-reading people but that part of the game was always interesting to me.”

Elwood began forming a book out of the numerous notes he took at the table. For the next two and a half years Elwood dedicated himself to writing Reading Poker Tells.

“This book was all my free time,” he said.

“I basically didn’t socialize with people for two and a half years. I put all my free time into this book. I was really stressed about it. It was tough.”

An admitted perfectionist, Elwood wanted to give people good, practical advice about picking up tells at the poker table.

Interestingly Elwood also decided to forgo traditional publishers and self-publish his book.

“I realized I’d probably sell less books but I’d make more on the ones I did sell. I was confident I’d make the money back over the years.”

Elwood: "I Flat Out Disagree with Joe Navarro"

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Reading Poker Tells
 

Elwood doesn’t pull any punches with the finished product. While Elwood likes the classic Caro’s Book of Poker Tells, he finds the information a bit dated.

He’s less kind to former FBI agent Joe Navarro’s work.

“I flat out disagree with a lot of it,” he said. “There’s some things that will make sense when interrogating people but not at a poker table. Navarro doesn’t play poker.”

To say Elwood’s book has been successful in the poker community would be an understatement.

Poker pros like Jon Aguiar and Andrew Brokos have heaped praise on the book, calling it one of the best books ever written on the subject.

Reading Poker Tells isn’t the only thing Elwood brings to the poker world, however. He also keeps up a blog that gives players a sample of his thoughts on poker tells.

If you want even more thoughts from Elwood you should also check out his acerbic Twitter account where he routinely calls out players like Phil Hellmuth.

You can currently buy a hard copy of Reading Poker Tells from Amazon or the digital version directly from Elwood’s website.

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About Arthur Crowson

Arthur has been involved exclusively with the poker industry since the 2006 World Series of Poker where he still claims to have captured the first interview with a then-unknown player named Jamie Gold on one of the days leading up to the Main Event final table. Since then Arthur has been working full-time for PokerListings.com writing news stories, covering poker tournaments, interviewing players and capturing it all with his trusty Canon camera.

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