Pokertox: freezing the face-muscles implicated in your poker tells

NYC's Dr Jack Berdy offers a botox treatment called "pokertox," which freezes parts of the face implicated in poker "tells" -- nonvolitional expression-changes that signal your opinion of your cards to your adversaries.

Some players look at their cards and ‘‘might raise their eyebrows or raise one eyebrow’’ if they do or don’t like what they see.

“Some squint, or furrow their brows,’’ Berdy said.

“We can inject Botox appropriately’’ so the other player doesn’t get the message that they’re angry, disappointed or happy.

“What someone sees across the table is no movement,’’ he said.

Remember the TSA's plan to turn mall-cops into mind-readers by teaching them to read semi-mythical "microexpressions" and so detect terrorists? Even if it worked, anyone wanting to foil it could presumably plump for some terror-tox injections and pass through the TSA look-into-my-eyes-and-swear-you're-not-a-jihadi checks smoothly and without batting an eyelash.

Botox poker face [NYPost/Rita Delfiner] (via Neatorama)



  1. Even if it worked, anyone wanting to foil it could presumably plump for some terror-tox injections and pass through the TSA look-into-my-eyes-and-swear-you’re-not-a-jihadi checks smoothly and without batting an eyelash.

    You are assuming that the TSA isn’t using the term “behavioral detection” as a synonym for racial profiling. Pump as much botox as you want, but if a TSA officer determines that your race falls into a certain part of the spectrum that worries them, then you can expect enhanced screening.

    1. That’s not the only faulty assumption: to work for poker this only has to mask tells, it doesn’t have to mask that you’re trying to hide something because that’s a given. A hypothetical TSA agent, on the other hand, might rightly consider the complete absence of any response at all to be highly suspicious.

      1. If you’re not crying and showing signs of being completely humiliated and intimidated at the end of the “interview,” you’re clearly a terrorist.

  2. Reminds me of one time at the Denver airport. The tsa agents were busy shutting down lanes, opening new lanes, then shutting them down again and reopening others. Meanwhile, the hurried and confused passengers were purposely not helped or instructed on what was happening, or what to do, unless someone did something the tsa considered wrong. It was a bizarre scene, it felt like we were being tested and any flinch would get you a blindfold and a spot along the wall.
    I finally make it through the screening, and I can see that my pocket stuff bin is waiting for me as well, when I’m asked to “stand here!” (In my socks lol) by a 25 year old kid who takes the next three minutes to stand inches from my face and engage me in small talk.
    Apparently satisfied, he finally let me go. Looking back, I wish I would have stuck a finger knuckle deep into my nose and started digging around… Would be interesting to see how his training would account for that!

  3. This is a bit silly. The whole point of tells in poker is that a person is unaware of their own tell (because if they were, they would mask it – most poker players are smart people). Also, in my experience, the majority of tells are not facial expressions or tics. That’s just Hollywood oversimplification.

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