Mastering the Auction, Part 6: Reading Your League

Learning how to use tells and human behavior to improve your auction drafting.

Note: This series is designed to take auction drafters of any ability and refine their auction skills to those of a seasoned auction veteran. The articles will go from very simple concepts all the way to the most advanced auction theories. Each article is designed to build on the previous articles in the series. For best results read each article before proceeding to the concepts in the next article. For a breakdown of auction mechanics and strategies see Footballguy Jeff Pasquino’s excellent 8-part Auction Primer Series.

This subject is easily the most indefinable part of any auction draft: the human psychology of individual drafters. The series has touched on this from time to time, but now is the time to get into the details of what makes people do what they do. When you’re sitting in the drafting room what can you tell about what a person will do from what they are showing you? Their clothing, their behavior, their alcohol intake, and their previous actions all factor into the overall picture you get when you’re facing someone down for a player or when you’re deciding on a nomination.

As noted in Part 5, at this stage in the process you are no longer learning simple concrete things that you can do to get better. Instead, you are learning how to layer subjective analysis over the top of your concrete skills in order to push your edge just a little bit more. So when you read this article you should do so with that important factor in mind. Nothing you are learning now is an exact science, but the longer you draft the more these things will stand out if you are looking for them, and the more reliable your interpretation of them will become.

The Psychology of Tells

You read briefly about tells in a prior part of this series. But now you are going to take a layman’s course in human psychology and how it can affect your auction drafting. Keep in mind this advice is not from a clinical perspective of someone with a medical degree, rather it is advice grounded in game theory and observable human responses in high-pressure situations. The thing about pressure is that it does things to a person’s face, voice, or body language that they are often not aware that it is doing. That is the whole crux of the issue. Is the person unaware of what they are giving off to the room, or are they intentionally trying to portray something that they don’t believe?

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