Follower Friday: Poker Tells Author Zach Elwood

Reading Poker Tells banner
The cover to Zach Elwood's Reading Poker Tells.

There’s no question that social media plays an integral role in the modern poker industry.

Whether it’s setting up staking deals, promoting yourself or even keeping track of a tournament it’s indispensable to most poker players.

Some people are really good at it. Others are not.

Zach Elwood, author of Reading Poker Tells and Verbal Poker Tells, is on the good side when it comes to Twitter.

An Elwood Tweet usually means at least a chuckle or maybe some information about picking up tells on people. Can’t have enough of either really.

This is what you can expect from his Twitter account:

As part of our ongoing Follower Friday feature we’re doing a quick Q&A with Elwood today: Who is your favorite Twitter account in poker and, in your opinion, what makes for a good follow?

Verbal Poker Tells
Zach Elwood's second book Verbal Poker Tells.

Zachary Elwood: I don't look at Twitter that much. Mainly I just randomly scroll the live feed from time to time. Sometimes I'll start reading a specific person’s feed if they've posted something interesting recently.

Having said that, I've recently really enjoyed Olivier Busquet's feed lately, just because he makes some interesting observations about poker and he likes to speak his mind, which makes for some good arguments with people.

For me, I generally appreciate humor most of all on Twitter, mainly because I think it's too brief of a medium to do much in the way of real communication. So I like comedic accounts like @dougleepoker and guys who aren't afraid to just say whatever crazy thing is on their mind, like @limonpoker and Jon (@sketchy1)poker Eaton. Or (unintentionally) funny accounts like @tonybigcharles.

PL: What do you use Twitter for?

To be honest, and it's probably obvious, but I created the account to promote my first book Reading Poker Tells, when that came out.

Since then, however, I've kind of acquired a Twitter fixation and use it to just put up random, interesting, or funny thoughts that I have. I kind of treat it like a personal diary, so anything either remotely gambling-related or comedy related I put up on there. And sometimes when I'm bored I'll scroll some feeds to kill some time. That's about it. 

PL: What’s the one thing that will make you unfollow someone?

I will generally only unfollow someone if they say something amazingly stupid or insensitive. But this often very subjective and it's admittedly hard to tell when people are joking around or trolling or whatever. Twitter is a tremendously stupid way to communicate with other human beings.

PL: Because of your books do you get a lot of questions about poker tells via Twitter?

I do.

If you look at my full feed you'll see my responses to people who ask me stuff and you can see their questions. A lot of times it's just me saying "that depends, in my opinion, but here’s what it will generally mean, but I think it's only a slight tendency" or whatever. Because most behaviors just aren't super-powerful indicators of anything. But some will be. 

PL: Who in poker do you wish had a Twitter account?

Olivier Busquet
Best follow in poker?

I don't really care about specific poker players, to be honest. I've never really been interested in what specific players are doing. I just like the game itself.

But for what I'm interested in, it'd be awesome if some experienced high-stakes players would give observations of hands they've just played, live reads, game flow thoughts, stuff like that.

Not so much the strategy, because I think we hear a lot about that already, but the stuff you don’t often hear about. But the serious high-stakes players don't have an incentive to do that, for obvious reasons.

PL: Do you get any haters on Twitter? If so how do you deal with them?

I don't really. Surprisingly almost everyone is tremendously cordial. Even when I've said or done something stupid that I immediately regretted, everyone has been very polite. But then again, this might be mostly related to the fact that hardly anyone is actually paying attention to you on Twitter at any given time.

PL: While studying poker tells for your books did you start to notice tells in daily life, unrelated to poker?

Not really. I do feel that over the years I've become more attuned to small, subtle behaviors. I'm pretty good at picking out small hints and clues in conversation. Like when someone seems to be avoiding a subject, or they use a weird word or phrase that seems out of place. Or why they might be looking somewhere else or suddenly avoiding eye contact.

Small things like that: I'm pretty good at figuring out what a lot of these things mean. But it's not like it's very useful because most of the time in social situations people aren't trying to keep secrets from you. Most people don't care very much if you do pick up these small clues about how they're feeling or what they're thinking.

But I do think poker does make you more attuned to behavioural cues, especially if you’re focused on it a good amount when playing. I think it's one of the positive gains from playing a lot of poker.

You can buy Reading Poker Tells and Verbal Poker Tells on Amazon.

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