Using Poker Tells to Your Advantage
By Andrew Collinson
Learn How to Spot Poker Players' Tells & Win the Real Money Pot
Most people have seen at least one film, or read a book where the suave gambler notices a players tell and wins big because he knows that the player is bluffing. While these scenes are always more dramatic than they should be, they do shine light on a very real tool available to poker players. Tells are real and you can use them to bank more consistently. We’ll explain what tells you should look for and how you can take advantage of them as well so that you can earn even more as you play.
The Benefit of Recognising Tells
- Make more informed plays
- Maximize a good hand
- Shut down a bluffer
- Lure players in by behaving suspiciously
- Using patterns to win more
If you’re new to online poker you’re probably thinking that you can’t tell much about a player without actually sitting face to face with him. That’s simply not the case. Whether you’re in a top-rated match, or a low-limit online poker game you can pick up tells just by the length of time that a player takes to make a decision. Pay close attention to the time taken to make calls, checks, bets and raises and you’ll learn something about your opponent as well. Read below to see what tells in online poker are the most common.
The Long Pause Raise – Big Hand
If a player that you’re facing takes a long pause and then makes a sizeable raise you’re generally facing someone with a very strong hand. Sure there are players that fake this, and he could be bluffing, but in most instances that isn’t the case. This is one of the tells in online poker that is quite reliable, so be wary of a player acting this way.
Instant Check – Weak Hand
Players that rely on the instant check aren’t feeling too confident about the hand. They already know that they aren’t going to make a major move with the cards, but don’t want to be knocked out. You can exploit these players by forcing them out with a raise, but go light enough to coax a bit more money out of them if you have a decent hand.
Quick Bet Call – Weak to Mid Hand
It’s common for players without too much in their hand to make a quick call to your raise to try to keep from looking afraid. The reality is that they’re using a scare tactic that doesn’t hold up to that idea. If the player had a solid hand he would re-raise, by calling the hand is likely just okay or weak even. Continue raising with a decent hand and you’ll likely walk away with the pot when this player folds a hand or two later.
Auto Raise – Strong
Anytime that you come across a player that auto-raises a hand, chances are good he has a very solid hand indeed. There are players that bluff in this manner, but it’s not very common. You should be very scared if a player does this, especially if he typically plays tight. Consider folding or check-calling to the river to avoid losing too much.
When you’re playing poker in person it’s even more important to be aware of the tells of other players and yourself. Poker online tells can be spotted through decision times, but taking a moment to learn common visual tells will help you take advantage of other players around you so that you can win real money more regularly.
Quiet Player Speaks
Quiet players generally don’t say much throughout the game unless they have a strong hand. Just sit back and watch some poker players and over time you’ll notice that the shy players talk a bit more when they have good cards. That’s because they are feeling relaxed and confident in the hand. Shy players tend to be even quieter when attempting a bluff because they are under stress.
Visual Strong Hand Tells
- Steady eye contact, not much blinking
- Delicately sliding chips to pot
- Red face
- Sighing or shrugging when calling a raise
- Carefully managing hole cards
Visual Weak Hand Tells
- Excessive blinking or squinting eyes
- Fake smile
- Biting nails
- Holding breathe
- Tossing chips into pot
- Handling hole cards carelessly
Using Tells to Your Advantage
Now that you know some of the most common tells in offline and online poker, you can look for them in real cash games and hopefully walk away with a few more pounds than you started with at the end of the game. An online casino is a good place to learn to track these tells, but only if you really focus and pay attention to how different players play.
Avoiding Common Tells
To keep from being targeted for your own online poker tells, it’s important to be aware of them yourself to actively try not to do them. The best way to do this is by being an erratic player. Use the auto feature of the game occasionally and take your time making decisions at other moments. Make a conscious decision to switch up how you select the buttons and you’ll have players confused. You can even intentionally give away tells early on in a game and then change your playstyle later on to confuse opponents and win more money.
Learn to spot tells and to avoid giving away your own and you’ll win more often. It’s simple to do and can make a very real difference in your games. It’s one of the ways that top players beat out the less experienced.