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Poker Tells

Poker Tells
by K. Swope of

Everyone that plays poker will at some point divulge important information in the form of a “tell”. Even the most seasoned veterans on the game are susceptible to the inevitable mishap of bodily or behavioral keys that unlock the mystery of their cards. It’s almost comical at times to see players wear sunglasses at the table in hopes of disguising their eyes from detection of lying. However, there are far many more poker tells to be seen then what hides behind those Oakley’s. Players that chose solely to play online can not even escape the clutches of poker tells. How does one discover such tells?

Observation is the astounding answer to that question. You must observe your opponents at all times. Far too often players will concentrate on their cards or watch the flop when they should be watching their competitors. Some tells you can assume are much harder to detect then others. Nervous or anxious jitters, breathing changes are hard to see when sitting opposite of someone at a table. While sitting beside the dealer in seat #1 or #10 may obstruct your view of players sitting on the other side of the dealer. Do your best, despite the conditions, to pay close attention even if you’re not playing in the hand. This can be very beneficial since you have no concern over having cards of your own.


Some vary obvious tells when playing live include the theory of acting strong on weak hands and acting weak on case hands. The act of being strong can come in the form of pounding chips vigorously forward on a raise or all-in bet. Some people will also “splash” the pot by carelessly throwing their chips across the table when betting. This normally means a bluff or draw. Players that act weak when holding very powerful hands may sometimes check to you and wait for your bet, then ponder for several minutes whether to call only to raise your bet instead. Also, do not confuse a shaky hand as a bluff. Normally a player will be as lax as possible, hardly even breathing when attempting a bluff as not to draw attention to their ploy. Players that appear nervous may only seem this way because they made a great hand and the shaking is a release of tension, not nervousness. Players that are verbally mean or impatient will hold strong hands and are attempting to lure you into a decision of calling their bets. The opposite is then true for players that are overly nice and also can not hide a smile when bluffing in hopes that their friendly nature will convince you to let them have the pot.

As for online play, tells come by way of betting patterns. Methods that players typically use to gain position or give away pots according to what they do with their chips. The same can be said for the strong means weak and weak means strong method. Aggressive raisers and bettors will typically not be holding strong hands choosing to bet in order to win uncontested pots. Players that do not bet then opt to check-raise your bet typically hold strong hands. Players that will only cold-call your bets and do not raise or re-raise any hands are usually on draws and will not be aggressive unless they make the hand they were drawing to.

Of all the points made here the most prominent is simply to become more observant to your surroundings, in doing so, you will increase your knowledge base of the players around you, and give yourself a better fighting chance at succeeding.

Vocal Tells: The Guessing Game
Counterpoint to Tells
Watching the Eyes
Those Feet Were Made For Talking
Poker Tells: Creating Your Baseline Behavior
Common Poker Tells
Reading Your Opponents Wardrobe
Strong Means Weak and Weak Means Strong


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