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Quality Of Professional Players' Poker Hands Is Perceived Accurately From Arm Motions

In the card game of poker, players attempt to disguise cues to the quality of their hand, either by concealment (e.g., adopting the well-known, expressionless "poker face") or by deception. Recent work, however, demonstrates that motor actions can sometimes betray intentions. The same action can have different movement dynamics depending on the underlying intention (Becchio, Sartori, & Castiello, 2010), and these subtle differences can be decoded by observers (Becchio, Manera, Sartori, Cavallo, & Castiello, 2012; Sartori, Becchio, & Castiello, 2011). Thus, professional poker players' intentions may be visible from their actions while moving poker chips to place bets. Even though professional players may be able to regulate their facial expressions, their motor actions could betray the quality of their poker hand. In three studies, we tested this hypothesis by examining observers' perceptions of poker-hand quality. We also examined individual differences in sensitivity to nonverbal behavior and potential diagnostic motor behaviors as cues to hand quality.

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