Poker Tells

written by: John

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When playing live poker there will be times when you happen to notice that some players display certain physical characteristics when playing certain hands, good or bad. These characteristics can be as subtle as a wrinkle of the forehead or twitch of the eyebrow to something more drastic such as a player's voice trembling when they make a raise or the way they reach for their chips before it is their turn to act.

In poker, these physical characteristics are referred to as 'tells.' Tells can provide you with the information you need to make a decision regardless of the strength of your cards or board texture. In other words, tells can save you money or can make you money depending on your observations of your opponents. If they twitch when they have pocket aces, then you know to fold your hand pre-flop. If they start chatting you up when they're trying to run a bluff, you know you can re-raise them to push them off their hand.

Ok, so by now you are probably wondering what this has to do with playing online poker since physical tells don't mean squat. You would be right of course. Since there isn't any physical interaction whatsoever, it is impossible to pick up any physical tells online.

Although that may be true, there are common characteristics that many players display online that can be easy to notice if you were to pay close enough attention. These tells like any live tells can save you time and give you that needed edge to dominate your opponents. But instead of making your figure them out on your own, we have displayed the top online tells for you below.   

Top Poker Tells

-Check-Fold Box: The check-fold box is there for a player's convenience so they don't have to wait until it's their turn to check their hand, it will happen automatically. So if an opponent has checked their hand within a blink of an eye when it became their turn to act, this would possibly indicate that they have no interest in their hand, meaning that it was weak.

-Call Box: In a similar fashion as the check-fold box, the call box is there so players don't have to wait until it was their turn to call, it would just automatically happen. When you notice a player automatically call a hand this should raise a warning flag. Why didn't they raise if they had a good hand? Why not fold if their hand was no good. Sound like they may be on a draw doesn't it?

-Insta-Raise Box: Like the other two options above, there is a convenient box for players to check if they want to raise their hand no matter what. This will typically indicate that they have a super strong hand. Be sure to tread with caution here.

-Think a Long Time Before Calling: Generally when a player thinks a long time before they make a call they are trying to display weakness as if they are unsure whether to continue in the hand or not. In most cases, they are much stronger than what they let on.

-Think a Long Time Before Checking: When a player takes a long time to think before checking, they want you to think that they are trying to suck you in thus scaring you into not betting. In these cases, these players generally have weak hands.1.

-Chatting in Chat Box: Take note of each player's tendencies as far as how social each player is. If there is a player who is normally rather talkative and then all of a sudden quiets down, it could be a sign that they are focusing on their hand (strong). On the other hand, if a player who is normally quiet peps up all of a sudden, then maybe they are feeling more comfortable at the table or maybe more comfortable with their hand?

-Odd Bet Sizes: If there is a pot of $23 and an opponent bets $5, this will generally signify that they have a hand they like, but not that much. They will commonly have a small pocket pair or maybe A-K and bricked the flop.

In other cases, a small bet like this can be a total bluff attempt thinking that if you missed you would fold. These types of bets are normally on wet boards with lots of draws.

Lastly, in rare cases these bets can be used to lure players in when the villain has a strong hand. This is pretty rare though and from personal experience, it doesn't happen as often as the first two suggestions.

It should be noted that odd over bets can also signify many of the same scenarios listed above.

Top Online Poker Tells

While these may be common online poker tells it is important to remember that just because you notice a player displaying these characteristics doesn't mean that this player is what you think he is, be it weak or strong. Any well-versed poker player can switch gears or use information like this to fool players who rely too strongly on it. Always be sure to observe opponents and take notes before basing decisions solely on reads alone.