Since Deanna Troi can tell when someone is lying, why would she be allowed to join a poker game with the other head officers in their weekly poker game?

Wouldn't she always win? Or at least know when someone is bluffing?

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    If there's no money, there's no reason not to let her play, and there's no reason for her to extensively use her talents to win - she has no reason to 'cheat' (even if her skills were strong enough). – Jeff Oct 31 '11 at 13:30
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    I loved the poker scenes. – ripper234 Nov 22 '11 at 20:45
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    Similarly, Geordi can see through the cards using his visor. (See this page, about halfway down.) – Goodbye Stack Exchange Dec 24 '11 at 21:32
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    Who would win a poker game in which one person always knows who is bluffing, one person can see what all the cards are, one person can stack the deck without anyone knowing, and one person is the best bluffer in the alpha quadrant and also your XO? – user11521 Apr 28 '14 at 18:53
  • @Michael who is the third, stacking person? I haven't watched TNG in a looooooong time – Petersaber Jun 26 '15 at 10:54

Reading emotions isn't the same as telepathy; I think it would give her a significant advantage, but, as any experienced liar (or poker player) can tell you -- lying when in close quarters with someone is basically a matter of controlling your emotions and responses.

When playing poker, everyone knows to look for 'Tells' that people have; the inexperienced player will allow their eyes to widen when they get a card that makes them happy. Or smile slightly, not realizing that they are doing so. And so forth.

Deanna had SOME empathic ability, and could spot gross changes in someone's mood, and perhaps the change in their mood when they tried to lie.. But an experienced poker player, who is used to holding his/her emotions in check would probably be a pretty good exercise for her.

It should be noted that she almost never bluffed; makes sense -- she knows how to spot others 'tells' pretty well, but probably has limited experience suppressing her own.

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    +1 - but i would think that as ships counselor she would have plenty of experience suppressing her own tells. – Chad Dec 28 '11 at 19:55
  • Somewhat; but, remember, she's used to dealing with people 'opening up' to her, and telling her things that she simply has to suppress a reaction to. In poker, she is having her own normal responses, and her skill as an empath make actually make it harder to suppress them; able to 'feel' deception, fear and so forth, would she ever have learned how to read the way a person's eyes move, or lips twitch? And, even with a nodding familiarly with them, it takes quite a bit of experience to not just suppress them in yourself, but suppress the visible signs of them trying to come out. – K-H-W Dec 28 '11 at 22:47
  • @chad - Incidentally, although I don't recall seeing it in STTNG, with Deanna, that's also one of the reasons the traditional image of the therapist and patient has the patient lying on a couch, unable to see the therapist, who CAN see them. It allows the therapist to see the patients responses, but hides the therapist's responses. Not that common, anymore, but therapist's lack of the ability to hide responses is one of the reasons it was the default for a long time. – K-H-W Apr 7 '15 at 14:15

She's an empath, not a telepath. Her readings aren't 100% on target and many empaths or psychics can tune it out.

The more serious threat to a poker game would be Geordi, who could see the actual cards each person was holding.

Neither of them used their "superpowers" in poker games. (Think of how that would have affected them in terms of the trust and respect of their friends and people whose trust and respect could have life or death implications.)

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    I think it was in the episode where Worf's back was broken Geordi did mention to Worf that he could see through the cards, but didn't look until after the hand. – Xantec Oct 30 '11 at 0:11
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    I seem to remember Data calculating the odds that various people were bluffing, essentially card counting. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Oct 30 '11 at 7:42
  • Yes, Data would have had his own leg up in several ways (I remember the episode where the Enterprise is caught in a time loop, and the other players openly wonder if Data is stacking the deck as he shuffles at superhuman speed), but like the others, he doesn't take advantage. – KeithS Oct 31 '11 at 14:47
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    @Wikis: Didn't he lose when he tried that? I thought that incident was supposed to be a lesson to Data that poker is more about playing your opponents than playing your hand. – Lèse majesté Dec 24 '11 at 20:32
  • @Lèsemajesté: oh, yes, I think you're right. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Dec 24 '11 at 20:40

Somewhere there's a discussion like this:

Some guy: I heard Riker plays poker with a telepath and a card-counting android. Doesn't sound very smart to me.

Picard(?): but that's the point. He usually wins.

So, it's just a question of how well you present yourself. Data might be able to calculate if you are flagrantly bluffing, and apparently Worf "never bluffs", so it doesn't seem like Troi is much of a risk. I still wouldn't invite her mother.

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