What is Tell in Poker

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The Ten Best Poker Tells that every poker player must know

Imagine this, you are at a table trying to figure out whether to call or fold and you are frustrated beyond belief because you just don’t know what cards your opponent is going to wield. Wouldn’t it help if someone just gave you a tip? The good news is that your opponent might be giving you hints but you just don’t know how to pick up on them. These are called poker tells. Learn how to read them and you will be doing yourself and your bank balance a huge favor.

Are there even poker tells in online poker?

Often while playing online players face more difficulty in spotting the poker tells because they cannot observe the non-verbal tendencies of a player. However, this should not be mistaken as a lack of poker tells online. There are plenty of other ways to observe players online even if they are just usernames on your screen. Curious to know how? Just keep reading and find out for yourself!

Having a tell in poker is inevitable, using it to your advantage, and being aware of them is a skill very few can hone. The popular notion that online poker tells are majorly centered around learning betting patterns and the previous behavior of players has some merit but that’s not all that there is.

Get ready to open your mind to new possibilities of online poker tells and how to use them to your advantage in your decision making.

What is an online poker tell?

A tell in poker can range from physical ticks or mannerisms to any actions or patterns that give away the strength of a hand. Online poker does provide some information about an opponent’s cards. Online you have access to the amount of time that a player is taking to make a bet, how much they are betting, and chats in the chatbox if any. In addition to this, there are the user name and profile pictures that help you in basic profiling. All these when combined can result in a pretty clear picture of your opponent and their poker tells.

Roll up your sleeves as we investigate how to cash in on some of the common poker tells out there!

1. How fast your opponent calls

There are several reasons why an opponent would call on your bet. These could include trapping you, drawing, being unsure of being ahead, or floating. What you need to do is figure out which one of these is the case and use this common poker tell that to adjust your play. While doing this the biggest hint that you have is the time that your opponent taking with making the flop call. When trapping, your opponent will try to feign weakness by pausing a few moments before making the call. While floating players usually need an actual minute to think through the move and evaluate outcomes. As opposed to these two, players who need to draw and are unsure with try to show strength by calling as quickly as they can to throw you off their scent, as if nonchalantly claiming “I was going to call anyway”.

2. A quick preflop re raise

When a player quickly raises a bet that has already been raised, it is safe to assume that the re-raiser has a secure hand. Only a player with a good strong hand would rely on it enough to re-raise so early in the game. This re-raise is a poker tell that usually indicates a pair of queens, kings, or aces. The traditional high cards in pairs or solid combinations like a king and an ace. So, this can signal you to proceed with caution.

3. Heading straight for the Check button Pre-action

When a player heads straight for the check button right from the big blind ore flop stage to the flop it is the classic indicator of a lazy player. The stages are meant to bet, regardless of what you hold. But if one of your opponents uses the pre-action check button and then raises a bet you should strongly consider folding unless you hold an almost unbeatable hand. This is a trapper holding a winner for sure. 

4. The dilly dally before a check

When your opponent is taking a long pause before they check they are trying to put up a façade. This façade is to make you believe that they had a tough call to make between checking and betting. If you can decode this common poker tell you will come to know that they most likely have nothing but are trying their luck to get a free card. If you have a strong hand make them pay.

5. The dilly dally before a bet

This is the flipped version of the last poker tell in which your opponent is trying to falsely project weakness when in fact their hand is strong. This player right here has done everything but pulled the trigger of his brand-new shiny gun. Make sure you aren’t bringing a knife to this gunfight or else you are sure to go down my friend. This poker tell could save your game if used right.

6. The Super quick bet

When you blink your eye and your opponent has already bet something is sure to be up. This player could be the same pre-flop raiser who has quickly bet on the flop making it a continuous bet. Now, this could either be a bluff or a really strong hand. In the case of a bluff, this player is surely making sure his story makes sense and could be selling it to you but in this case, it would still take them a few moments before betting. An almost instantaneous bet would more likely hint at a strong enough hand. Maybe not the best out there but a potential pot grabber.

7. The Super quick check

A very fast check would be a poker tell that indicates weakness. This could be a player desperately trying to salvage something. You can bet when this happens but it would be wise to be prepared to check-raise.  

8. Online profile pictures

Avatars or profile pictures can give you a decent impression of what kind of a player you are going up against. An avatar of a poker forum or an online poker professional or perhaps even of a training site indicates someone of at least a decent level of experience. They will probably make good starting hand selections and decisions.  

On the other hand, if you see casual profile pictures like those of pets, families, spouses, and the likes you are most likely up against recreational players who may not be strong strategists.

9. Online player names 

Often people place their birth years in their names like King80 may be born in 1980 which gives you an approximate age of the person. Older players are more likely to play a tighter less aggressive game and less likely to overvalue hands in general. This can help you adjust your play accordingly.

10. Chats

Online chats are the only way to directly communicate with your opponents. These can be one of the best places to pick on poker tells and take advantage of them. These chats can be especially enlightening when players are chatty and reveal many of the poker tells that they may not even know they have. Consider a few of these examples to get a fair idea of how you can decode the poker tells in a short conversation

  • On a basic level it is safe to assume that friendly chatters are most likely newbies.
  • Other than this some players constantly complain and blame bad decisions and losses all on their luck, you can take advantage of such a player’s fears. Bet a scare card and have them running for the hills.
  • If a player is commenting on your hand selection and provoking you, he is the self-proclaimed Mr. Right, playing in a direct, tight, and passive style always no matter the situation. Deal with this one by betting when he checks but keep in mind such a player won’t enter a pot with a bad starting hand.
  • Idle chit chatting by a player in the big blind can tell you that this player probably does not have that big a hand. A strong hand would not solicit this kind of leisurely talk. However, when a usually chirpy player goes silent it might be time to get your guard up because he is packing some heat.

These are some of the best poker tells that you should be sure to master. Eventually they will come naturally to you, albeit they may take some time but until then stay sharp and don’t forget to have your poker face on. Online or offline it is sure to help.

Poker is equal parts skill, math, and psychology. A unique game that has so many elusive aspects that can either put a player up high on a pedestal or land them in the dumps. One such aspect is the knowledge of poker tells. This article is sure to have opened a window into the world of tells for you.

So, go ahead, download the poker app and take over the poker world at Spartan Poker. Use your newfound knowledge of poker tells to make your opponents pay!


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