Online Poker Tells to Give You an Edge

Online Poker Tells

A poker tell is a behavioural habit or demeanour that a player gives which indicates the strength of his/her hand. It is not exclusively for weak hands. Poker tells can often be a powerful hand too. We will write an article in the future on the typical poker tells that you can pick up in live poker – and there are many! This article will focus on the online poker tells that players exhibit. Many of these tells will be generalised and be true to the majority of players online. Naturally there is the rare genius player that might just be smart enough to reverse them on you, so be careful.

“Insta-raise” – Strong

The instant/automatic raise is often an indication of strength. It is an easy tell to pick up as it’s usually from new players that have clicked the automatic button available, players that are playing too many tables and need to get the raise in or newbies too excited. If a player is raising fast without need to think, chances are he has a very strong hand so be careful. Naturally, if the player is a donkey, he could be overplaying his hand and your hand could be good but you will need to use your discretion in this case.

Fast Check – Weak

Again, if a player is checking so fast you didn’t realise it’s your action, it’s a powerful clue that he is check/folding. This isn’t a universal truth as some players will check to the raiser but more often than not, the very fast check is a sure sign of weakness and ready to fold and move on to the next hand. Players are not going to be putting on Hollywood acting performances with rubbish holdings. They want to fold fast and move on.

Large Looking Bet – Weak

This tell is not applied to everyone as many people have their custom bet sizes ready to click. It’s more for those that are clearly manually entering their bet sizes. Those players who are betting $99.99 instead of $100 are trying to make the bet look big. Why? More often than not, it’s to look intimidating and bigger than it is. When you see all those numbers and chips, it’s designed to look like a big bet that should cause you concern. Whilst this online poker tell is not seen as often anymore, it still applies to the majority of those who are manually entering their bet amounts.

Delayed Raise – Strong

This is one of the most common online poker tells you can take to the bank. I, myself am guilty of this sometimes. The delayed raise is often a monster hand. I don’t mean a delay of a few seconds – I am talking at least 5 seconds or more. If someone is taking this long to make a decision then chooses to raise, it’s nearly always the nuts or close to it. Sure, there are rare occasions a player will bluff but that is seldom. Most player’s who take ages and consider a bluff end up giving up as the tension and pressure builds.

Eliminate Your Online Poker Tells

In order to eliminate your own poker tells, you need to assess where you may be giving away information that reveals the strength of your hand. Are you changing your bet sizing based on the strength of your hand? Are you acting too fast or slow over decisions? The table below is some basic tips to eliminate online poker tells and make you even harder to beat.

Take the same amount of time on all decisionsTry to take the same amount of time over your decisions. If you are taking ages with weak holdings and quick with strong hands, a competent player will recognise this and have you pegged. Once they know this, they can play you blind.
Consistent bet sizingThis is really key. If you bet big with strong and small with weak, any player who is paying attention can tell what you’re up to. It’s very important you stay consistent and hard to read with your bet sizing. This also balances your range; ensures you get paid off and have successful bluffs.
Don’t be predictableAvoid people picking up on anything by throwing curve balls. Mix it up, make unorthodox moves every now and then to avoid people reading you easily.

Conclusion

Online poker tells are another way of reading your opponent and making better decisions. By being aware of them and incorporating them into your playing, you will have a greater chance of winning money. Remember the tips to eliminate your own tells and you will have the upper hand on most of your opponents who do not give online poker tells much attention at all. Finally, the tips in this article are not universal and don’t apply to every online poker player. They are simply my own observations from many years playing online that appear to be true for many poker players.

Is a Poker Face Important?

Poker Face

Say poker face and you probably have Lady Gaga’s breakout tune in your head. A poker face is the look associated with a player at the table when playing poker. Some are bad, some are cringy, some are laughable and a few are great.

Without fail, any TV show or movie depicting a poker scene will overstate its importance. Usually the actors’ faces and expressions, whist acting masterpieces they may be, are actually irrelevant to the hand. Getting a flashback to Casino Royale yet?

I don’t want to be too critical of the poker face. Your demeanor at the table is certainly a factor and anything you can do to help your chances of winning or earning more is worth considering. I think it is important to make a distinction between a poker face and poker tells (which we will write about in due course). Let’s explore some techniques that can help your poker face and ability to conceal your hand to your opponents.

Consistency

Having a consistent look, whatever that may be is important. Poker players, like a predators hunting for any prey they can get, are hunting for information, whenever it is there to be taken. One of your goals in poker is to obtain as much information as possible, to make better decisions, but also give away as little as possible. If you’ve found a look you like. Stick with it and don’t stray.

Blinking

This may seem trivial but it isn’t. Please remember to blink when you are being tared down. If you don’t, you will get nervous, anxious and your face will involuntarily give off information to an attentive opponent.

Poker face
Image by Freepik.com

Eye Contact

Keep eye contact with your opponent(s). Looking people in the eye is a psychological move that suggests you have nothing to hide. The flip-side is avoiding eye contact reveals you are afraid to look at your opponent. Perhaps you’re bluffing or doing a reverse bluff. Either way, eye contact is n important and again, should be consistent.

Practice

I am not a fan of developing a poker face but If you’re going to do something. Do it right. Look in the mirror, practice it. A good poker face should not require much work or facial contortion. It should be a comfortable and relaxed expression otherwise you are probably doing more harm than good.

Warning

The live poker environment is far safer than a few decades ago but remember there are still unsavory characters around. I don’t recommend developing a mean poker face and staring at these types. Your goal in poker is to win money and play well, not make enemies, have fights or anger people.