A tell is any habit or behaviour that gives other players more information about a hand
What exactly is a Poker Tell? A tell is any habit, behaviour, or physical reaction that gives other players more information about your hand. As in most facets of life, holding information or additional knowledge can only put you in a stronger position, and this is the case in poker too.
Is it possible that players on the internet can also display ‘tells?’ Okay, you won’t be able to see any outward physical signs such as trembling hands, flexing muscles, pupil dilation or the vein in the top side of your opponent’s head throbbing, but yes, it is possible to derive information by observing the way other people play online.
Poker Player has put together a list of internet tells that will help you detect weakness or strength. One word of warning here, exercise caution, just as in live games experienced players may well vary their play and give out false tells to fool players. Additionally other factors may also be involved, for example, if a player has been disconnected several times during the game, his slow betting is merely a sign of a bad connection. Similarly, many players operate on more than one table at a time, don’t read too much into his betting speed, because his betting speed is influenced by the demands of his other tables.
Observation allied to sound tactics is the key to successful poker, studying your opponents, spotting their patterns and/or styles of play. A good player will always mix his style to confuse the other players and this is what you should also strive to do.
Fortunately there are plenty of poor players online to take advantage of and these people make many of the mistakes highlighted below.
Betting Speed Tells
Every online poker room has a set number of seconds that each player has to respond before he has to make a check, bet or raise or else they are folded. However, often, the speed of play can be a good “tell.” Typically, a quick bet is a sign of weakness, and a delayed action is a sign of strength, as the player is calculating his strategy with what he perceives to be a huge hand. Watch how much time it takes the other players to make their action, and mentally make a note of it. If you get a chance to see their cards at showdown, see if you can determine what they “slow bet” with and what they “fast bet” with.
The Pregnant Pause
As a general rule, if a player pauses a long time, then bets, that still means he probably has a good hand and is trying to figure out his play. If, however, he pauses for a long time and just checks, it usually means his hand is mediocre at best.
The Check Box
Most online poker rooms have little boxes you can check for quick play. As a general rule, you shouldn’t use these. They give too much information away.
A player who pre-selects the check button probably has a weak hand; if he selects the call any bet button, most likely he has a good hand; and if he selects the raise pot button he is probably holding a monster.
Moreover, players who use pre-action buttons are most likely not paying attention to the game. They are either playing on multiple tables or doing something else on their computer. These players will only bet if they have good hands, and are less likely to employ fancy tactics like bluffing or check-raising.
The Quick Check
A quick check by a player usually indicates a weak hand. If you are on the button and all the players before you checked quickly, you can probably take down the pot with a strong bet.
However, be very careful if a player re-raises after checking quickly. In this situation, your opponent’s early quick check was probably an attempt to trap you into betting into his strong hand.
The Pause and Check
A player who pauses a long time before checking is probably trying to give the impression he is thinking about making a bet and fooling others into exercising caution and checking as well. The “pause and check” player hopes the pause will convince others that he is holding a monster hand, and that he is taking his time to decide whether he should bet or check-raise. In reality, this player usually has a drawing hand and is using the pause to get a free card.
Pause and Bet
A player who thinks for a long time before betting usually has a monster hand. He hopes other players will read the pause as weakness and bet into him.
The Table Talker
Invariably there are players who sit at the table and chat. Often it can be interesting to observe what is going on and revealing in terms of assessing what sort of person you are dealing with – getting a glimpse of that particular player’s psyche.
These players can fall into many different categories, a tilting player is easy to spot as they often tend to become abusive, sarcastic and basically insult everyone in attendance. If they are irritable and angry their judgement will be affected.
Some chatty players who suddenly go quiet may have flopped a good hand.
Other players will flat out tell you what cards he/she is holding, incredible as it sounds if the pot size is small, these players are most likely telling the truth. The honest player’s strategy is to candidly reveal his cards if the pot size is small.
There is often a know-it-all type who talks down to people. He or she will tell you the best strategy to employ. Humour this person into revealing his/her strategy.
When you sit down at a Hold’em table, you have the option of waiting for the big blind to get to you, or you can post a matching big blind and start playing immediately. If the person plays immediately he or she is demonstrating impatience and that is not a quality a good player lacks. Conversely if the newcomer does wait for the big blind they might be more disciplined or just cheap – find out which!
All it takes is several hands of play to get an initial read on an opponent. Many opponents will try to always see the flop, no matter how bad their hand is. If you’re playing against someone who’s always getting in to see the flop, you can count on the fact that many of his hands may not be very good…and a little pushing will usually nudge him out of the hand.
Some players will mostly fold their hand. This typically means they are a patient player, waiting for one of the top pre flop hands to play. If they end up betting into a round, watch out…they probably have a strong hand and won’t be afraid to bully you with it.
Going Back to the Cashier
Sometimes you’ll notice a player who loses all his money, frequently reloading his cash. This probably means he has some cash in the bank, but isn’t good enough to keep it in his hand! If you see someone who’s refilling the bank a lot it could be that they begin to chase their money as they lose money and go on the tilt.
All or Nothing
One of the best things about playing online is that you can easily see how much the other players at your table have in cash. If someone started playing with £30 and is now down to £8, the chances are they will either leave the table or just blow the remaining amount on an all in If they’ve been seeing a lot of flops, raise them with a good hand and try to get the rest. More often than not, you’ll be the one sending them packing.
Folding Instead of Checking
Though most online poker sites have prompts to save you making this mistake, some amateurs will fold a hand instead of checking it, when the check would have been free. This is usually the sign of a poor player. However, a good player may fold instead of check on the river if he’s been bluffing and doesn’t want anyone to see his bluffing hand. This is also a good tell, since you’re getting a read on a good opponent’s bluff.
Choice of Name
Finally, take a look at your opponents’ names. As a general rule, serious players use their real name, a clever alias or a non-descript alias for playing. Fish many times have silly names or “rude” names. Though this isn’t always the case, it’s a general rule that can many times give you a read on the maturity level of your opponent. However, as with every other rule listed above, study their play first before rushing to make a judgement.