In poker, you can never be sure how bad or good your opponent’s hand is, often until it is too late. However, as poker, especially the live ones, largely involves human interaction, you would invariably receive certain clues from your opponents. This can be based on the changes in their physical demeanour or even their betting patterns, which indicate the weakness or strength of their hands; these are essentially known as “poker tells”.
What are Poker Tells?
By tells in poker, we ideally refer to actions, both verbal and physical, that the players may make to give away information about the strength of their hands. Especially when it comes to any live poker cash games, it is not uncommon to witness players revealing such information through such poker tells, even without being aware of their own actions. Live poker tells majorly include the expressions and overall demeanour of a person.
Poker tells are often realised in subtle physical or behavioural cues exhibited by players that can give hints or indications about the strength of their hand or their intentions in the game. While not footproof, being able to read and interpret these tells can provide you with a huge advantage in poker card games, especially if a particular tell is unconscious and reliable.
How to Spot Common Poker Tells?
Now that you have a brief idea about what it entails, you must be wondering what the common poker tells? Well, in poker, there are many. The more you play online poker, the better would be your chances to understand the common poker tells.
Pay attention to a player's consistent betting patterns. For example, some players may bet quickly and confidently when they have a strong hand, while others may take longer or make smaller bets with weaker hands.
Timing of Actions
Notice how quickly or slowly players make their decisions. Some players may take longer to act when they have a strong hand, while others may quickly check or call with weaker holdings.
Auto-Bet or Auto-Fold
Some online poker apps have options for players to automatically bet or fold their hands without taking any time to consider their decisions. If a player consistently uses these features, it could indicate their playing style or hand strength.
The chat box in online poker rooms can provide valuable information. Players may engage in conversation or use specific phrases that give insights into their mindset, strategy, or emotional state.
Players who are multitabling may display different behaviours or play more predictably due to their divided attention. This can impact their decision-making and timing.
Many online poker apps provide statistics on player behaviour, such as their pre-flop raise percentage, aggression factor, or showdown winnings. Analysing these stats can help identify patterns and tendencies of opponents.
Observe any significant changes in a player's behaviour, such as suddenly playing more aggressively or becoming more passive. It could indicate adjustments in their strategy or a change in the strength of their hand.
Online Poker Tells
When it comes to a live real money game of poker, you can observe things like how your opponents stare at you, when they look away, how they throw chips in the middle, or the way their expressions change while looking at their cards, in order to get a read on their holdings.
When you play online, none of these classic tells in poker would have any use for you as you cannot see or hear your opponent. However, this does not mean that online poker games do not exist. These tells are largely based on the speed of the action of the opponents (raise, bet or check), the implications of their action (big bet vs. small bet), as well as how it compares to their past patterns.
We have already discussed a few above, here are a few more easily identifiable tells in online poker games.
- Long pause that is followed by a raise: This usually implies a very strong hand.
- Instant and automatic raise: Typically implies a very strong hand.
- Instant automatic check: Usually happens with a weak or folding hand.
- Opponent quickly calls your bet: Can imply a moderate to semi-weak hand.
- Very small bets: This can be an indication of a weak hand.
- Massive all-in bets: Can either be a monster hand or bluff.
Poker Variations - FAQs
When it comes to reading poker tells that are relevant to live games, you ideally have to carefully observe your opponents to guess their hands. However, it is not always important to visually see another player to have an insight into his/her hand or what is going in his/her head.
Especially when you play poker online, you obviously won’t be able to check out the demeanor of your opponents, but still, their betting patterns can be big enough for you to pick up on. As you play poker for quite some time, your knowledge of advanced poker tells would definitely improve, and you shall be at a better place to understand when your opponents are trying to deceive you and when they are not.
Yes, poker tells are quite real. However, you must note that not all tells in Poker are reliable. Players, especially the more experienced ones, might even act in a particular manner or say certain things to deceive their opponents as well. Fake poker tells can induce opponents to make poor judgments and ultimately lose out on the game. Hence, players new to the game are better off not worrying about poker reads and tells and should try to focus more on the other aspects of poker strategy.