In our latest poker strategy article poker tournament crusher John “WhatA298” Bradley willl explain the most reliable live poker tells and online poker tells.
Aside from fundamental strategy, you can also gain added edge in poker, through becoming aware of tells.
Tells from opponents, are behaviours, timings etc which give you information. You can then interpret the information, giving you another piece in the puzzle of figuring out the hand that they hold.
Fundamentally, you are looking for information which defines a player’s hand as either strong or weak.
While this doesn’t tell you exactly what the opponent holds; along with your strategic knowledge, you can narrow down their range considerably.
Signs of Weakness
The most common expression of weakness, is the projection of strength. If a player has a weak holding, they will tend to try and show strength.
This ‘strength’ is very different however to real strength.
One often cited example of this is the ‘insta-call’. If you bet the flop, and your opponent calls very quickly, you can usually narrow their hand range to a middling strength hand.
Strong hands would either raise or, if they are going to call, they would think about the decision a little.
Instantly acting can be a conscious, or unconscious, attempt to show strength, and dissuade the opponent from firing another barrel at the pot.
There are many similar tells, which are consciously or unconsciously designed to show strength, but in reality are not congruent with holding a strong hand.
Some examples of ‘fake strength’ are:
- Intense staring after checking, or when the action is not on them
- Playing with chips after checking or while the action is not on them
- Sitting tall while you are deciding whether or not to bet
- Betting quickly
In each of these examples, the conscious or unconscious intention, is to dissuade you from betting or raising.
If the opponent had a good hand, however, they would far more likely to try to ‘stay under the radar’ and not tip off the quality of their hand.
Signs of Strength
When players have a strong hand, they will generally be trying to appear weak.
Players tend to feel more comfortable when they have a good hand, compared to when they have a bad hand and so, the more comfortable a player appears, the more likely they have a strong hand.
If a player takes a long time before betting or raising, or if they take time to deliberately count out a very specific betsize, this can be indicative of a strong hand.
Similarly, online, if a player uses a preset betsize, this weights their range slightly towards a weaker holding, and if they appear to have typed out a betsize, then this is more likely to be a strong hand.
Anybody, going back and forth to their chips before betting, is likely to be strong as well. A player whom is bluffing, is unlikely to be comfortable enough to do this and then still bet.
Other signs of strength include:
- Relaxed talking after betting
- Lots of gesturing (another sign of comfort)
- Goading after betting (unlikely to be a bluff, but instead trying to get you to reflexively call)
Poker player profiling by country
You can also gather tells which will show you what type of player you are up against.
Location tells are very useful online. This is somewhat discriminatory, and not always the case, but the common traits of each location are:
- RUSSIA: aggressive and splashy
- CHINA: aggressive and extremely splashy
- BRAZIL: aggressive
- UK: aggressive and splashy
- USA: passive and somewhat tight
- CANADA/AUSTRIA: often strong tight aggressive
Additionally, if you see a player from a country you generally do not see, such as Ivory Coast, it is incredibly likely that that player is going to be thinking about poker on a very basic level.
Live Poker Tells Conclusion
The amount of information available to you at the poker table, live and online, is almost limitless.
This article shows you a few of the most reliable and common tells, but there are far more for you to discover.
Remember to link the information you receive from tells, with your general baseline idea of how your opponent plays and with strategic knowledge.
Put all of this information together, and you will begin to become a force to be reckoned with at the poker table.
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