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Poker Tells

Poker Tells, or the ability to read your opponents, can play a crucial role in your success as a winning poker player. You don’t need to worry about spotting everything at once, but if you notice a tell it is good to think about what it may represent. Reading you opponents actions will help you make your next decision.

Online Poker Tells - Reading Your Opponent

Types of Poker Tells

When reading your opponent there are generally two types of poker tells:

1. Tells from players who are oblivious to the fact that they are providing a tell.

2. Tells from people who know they are providing a tell in an effort to misinform.

1. Non-Acting Tells are usually a result of anxiety or fear of messing up. Life is not always like a movie and people are not usually as cool and calm under pressure as James Bond. Here is a list of a few poker tells that are most likely Not Acts.

  • Fidgeting: Players are sometimes impatient. Fidgeting usually means the bettor has a weak hand or is bluffing and would be happy to see you fold. This player will usually be jittering or fidgeting, anxiously awaiting how you react to his bet. You may be able to reach for your chips as if you’ll call. If the player stops fidgeting around you might call, believing that it is likely that he has a weak hand or is bluffing. If it doesn’t stop, then he may have a monster hand and is simply worried that you wont call and you should consider folding.
  • Sudden Shaking hand: This tell is very similar to fidgeting except it usually leans towards a player having a monster hand.
  • Changes in Breathing: This tell is usually easy to pick up, either by hearing the opponent next to you, or observing his or her diaphragm. Players who make strong hands tend to get excited and breathe faster. If a player is bluffing, they may try to disguise their breathing and stop almost entirely. They fear that any sudden move may trigger a call.
  • Looking at Cards and Then…: A valuable tell can come simply by observing an opponents reaction after he or she has looked at their cards. One tell is when a player quickly looks at their chips. This is usually a sign of strength and a plan to bet. Another is Quickly looking away as if uninterested. This also usually represents strength. If an opponent looks at his or her cards and quickly covers them up it is a sign of strength, whereas if they seem to analyze their cards for a while, they are usually weak.

2. Acting Tells are when a player purposefully does something to try to affect your play:

  • Stare Down: Usually meant to intimidate and show strength, however its usually a sign of a weak hand or a sign that your opponent is committed to bluffing this hand.
  • Shrugs and Sighs: Usually a sign of strength. An attempt to make you believe his hand is weak, he doesn’t really care about it, when its most likely a good hand.
  • Reaching for Chips: A player is reaching for his chips in anticipation for you to bet. This is a sign of weakness most of the time. However weak players and beginners who hold strong hands may do this occasionally.

Online Poker Tells

Tells in the virtual world of online poker are a little more hard to come by, even harder to spot, and probably less reliable, however there are a few poker tells online that can prove valuable to your online poker experience.

Betting Speed Tells

  • Quick Check: In a good environment with something at stake, this usually reveals a strong hand with intentions of trapping. A player will usually use the auto check button which bets quickly as soon a players turn comes up. If you raise watch out for a re-raise. They’re probably trying to trap you.
  • Pause and Check: If a player pauses for a while and then checks, they are probably trying to scare other players into checking it down, when in all actuality they’re probably on a draw, hoping to get a free or inexpensive card.
  • Pause and Bet: In a tournament with decent stakes we’ll assume this guy didn’t get up and go take crab a coke. A player who thinks for a long time before betting usually has a monster hand. Although, this tell is a little less reliable, so please play with caution.
  • Quick Raise or Re-Raise on the River: A player who raises quickly on the river generally has a good hand. Unless you think yours is better you should consider mucking your cards.

Poker Chat Tells

  • Many times a players flat out tell you what they have, particularly if the pot is small and they hope you’ll think “Yeah, right”. This could be with a power hand or a weak hand.
  • After a bad beat many players will lose their cool and become sarcastic and abusive stating things like “You “””””donkey or fish, or “How can you play that against a raise!?” These players will most likely begin a string of careless play because they’re on tilt. Pay close attention and look for opportunities to take advantage.
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