Donald Trump – Master Evader and Terrible Poker Player

As a life-long Catholic and black conservative who was born and raised in Detroit, and who also lives only 15 minutes away from Fox Theatre, home of the most recent Republican Presidential debate held on 3/3/16, I had a lot of disturbing observations about this most recent debate, particularly about frontrunner Donald Trump.

Here's my personal analysis of Trump in the last debate - Like all dictators and despots, Donald Trump proved to be a master evader and equivocator – a man extremely talented at saying a lot without saying anything at all.

Basically a Republican version of Barack Obama.

As a guy who enjoys playing and studying poker on occasion, I've trained myself to spot peoples' "tells," meaning signs of bluffing or lack of confidence in their displayed behavior. Whenever a poker player has a crappy hand or doesn't believe in the strength of said hand, yet still wants to win the money in the pot, oftentimes he will bluff about the strength of his hand to try and intimidate the other players who actually do have good hands into folding.

As a poker player, it's your job to observe not what your opponent says, but what he does, and usually people who are bluffing demonstrate body language or various other nervous ticks that can be very telling (no pun intended!) of the weakness of their hand.

I believe this is Trump's "tell" when he is uncomfortable with what he's saying (or bluffing? about):

He makes this weird sucking noise and motion with his mouth, the sucking noise and motion that someone makes when they burn their mouth by eating hot food too quickly. Ever try to inhale Ramen Noodles without blowing on them long enough to cool them? I have, and that's what Trump looks like when he's nervous or lacking in confidence - like someone who's burning the inside of their mouth because they're too hungry to take the time to blow on their hot noodle soup.

At the end of this article, I dissect some detailed footage and instances of him displaying his tell and skillfully evading direct questions with non-answers. He's done this since day one in his campaign speeches as well as in all his previous debates. Based on my careful observations of his tells, believe you me, if I had the chance, I'd make a quick mountain of cash off of him by beating him handily at a game of poker in one of his failing casinos, because he wears his tells on his sleeve every time he is knocked off balance with reality, and his opponents would be well advised to exploit this weakness of his, although I fear it might be too late given his recent electoral momentum in the primaries.

I mentioned at the beginning that I am a life-long practicing Catholic, and I’d also like to glean from the rich tradition of Catholic Moral Theology to analyze Trump’s honesty, or possible lack thereof in this debate. My growing skepticism of Donald Trump’s honesty was really fueled by watching this recent Republican debate, and all I could think of is Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of the most forceful teachers on the ethics of lying, evasion, and equivocation when asked a direct question that justice demands a direct answer to. These three ways of dodging the truth have been mastered by politicians, both Democrat and Republican, and on 3/3/16, we really saw it on the Republican side, particularly by Teflon Don.

Catholic moral theologians have been vocal on the issue of lying and the varying degrees of honesty for centuries, going all the way back to St. Augustine in the patristic era (Augustine wrote a famous tract called "On Lying"), St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae during the Middle ages, St. Alphonsus Ligouri in his various manuals on moral theology, and finally John Henry Newman as well as many others after him.

In the absence of hard on-the-spot proof, it's very difficult (and even uncharitable according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2477-79) to come out and say that Trump outright lied during the 3/3/16 debate (and all the others for that matter), but I definitely saw signs of evasion, which is not quite "lying" per se, although it comes very close, and if abused, can degenerate into outright deception and dishonesty.

For example, in speaking of evasion, Newman says:

"Evasion;—when, for instance, the speaker diverts the attention of the hearer to another subject; suggests an irrelevant fact or makes a remark, which confuses him and gives him something to think about; throws dust into his eyes; states some truth, from which he is quite sure his hearer will draw an illogical and untrue conclusion, and the like." (On Lying and Equivocation)

Go back and watch Trump's (non)responses, [i.e. evasions] to some very direct questions he was asked in this and other debates, and I think you'll see Newman's definition of evasion on full display, and Trump was clearly uncomfortable during these moments, since deep down he may know that he is lying more to himself than he is to the American electorate.

Detailed proof of trump’s poker tells and evasions

I’ve devised a play-by-play spotting of Trump's evasions, non-answers, and poker tells when he's clearly uncomfortable or does not quite believe in what he is saying, (which is referred to by psychology and interrogation experts as "cognitive dissonance," whereby someone is caused great discomfort because they are trying to hold two opposing beliefs at once).

Here is the video footage, followed below with the detailed descriptions of them along with the exact times in the video where they occur:


17:35-21:05 - Here we see Trump's first among many evasions and refusal to answer a direct question with a direct answer about if or when he will move his clothing company back to the U.S. from Mexico. Instead, he resorts to repeatedly attacking Rubio below the belt by calling him a "little guy" and "little Marco" and he also goes off on a completely unrelated diatribe about currency devaluation and the TPP Deal. Rubio did a nice job of pointing out Trump's evasion of the question at the 19:53 mark.

30:57 - Cruz grills Trump with a direct question on his support for Hillary's failed 2008 Presidential campaign, and again, Trump evades the question and exhibits his tell, although the tell here is faint, you can still see it if you pay close attention after he stops talking. (31:37 to be exact)

36:49-53 - Trump was clearly uncomfortable about being repeatedly grilled on releasing the off the record audio from his NY Times interview, and after he was done speaking about it, he repeatedly shrugged his shoulders, shifted his upper torso and nodded his head, which is a classic sign of shame or hiding something.

38:44 - Trump faintly shows his tell again when answering the NY times audio question again. Boy did everyone (including the moderators) let him off the hook on this one. If they weren’t in such a rush to “move on” to another topic, I think they could have completely unraveled him on this issue and forcefully derailed his momentum.

43:32 - Trump calls Cruz "Lyin' Ted" but he exhibits his tell right after he calls Cruz this, which suggests that he may NOT believe that Cruz is lying about the NY Times audio.

59:08 - Trump displayed his tell again when he acknowledged his weathervane morality and willingness to change his position on the various issues he flip-flopped on during the 3 clips Megyn Kelly played starting at 54:21.

1:02:41 - Trump shows his tell while defending the alleged Better Business Bureau rating of his now defunct "Trump University."

1:03:23 - Trump's tell showed when discussing the lead plaintiff in the current Trump University class action suit against him.

1:05:01-105:42 - Trump does not seem very confident about the legal outcome of this class action suit, and his tell rears its head at the 1:05:42-48 mark.

1:07:12 - Shows his tell again after repeating himself and shouting "Little Marco" while defending Trump University.

1:08:05-1:08:26 - Shows his tell a few times while defending Trump University and his support of Hillary Clinton against attacks from Cruz.

1:11:00 - Trump shows his tell when bragging about how easily he thinks he can beat Hillary in the general election. You sure about that Donald?

1:38:30-39 - Trump evades Rubio's foreign policy attack question

rev. 03/06 0857EST

Bobby Hesley Lives in Madison Heights, Michigan, and is a 35 year old, Catholic speaker and writer, and can be reached at: His Catholic ministry website is