If you learn the art of reading poker tells, you can not only watch for the habits and tics in your opponents, but also watch your own behavior to make sure your body language isn’t telling all your secrets.
A poker “tell” is a mannerism or a physical action that a poker player makes during the play of his or her hand. The tell can be either verbal or nonverbal and it can be either made on purpose or unconsciously. This kind of behavior or habit gives (or tells) you information about the other players’ hands.
Many poker players pay little or no attention to their opponents’ actions at the table. This is not the way to play winning poker. Mike Caro, a leading authority on poker, says, “You will make more money from your opponent’s mistakes than you will from your own fancy play. Therefore, in order to be successful, you will need to study and evaluate your opponents at the table.” You can’t capitalize on mistakes if you are not aware of which players are making them!
Here are some general guidelines for reading poker tells:
Pretending To Have A Weak Or Strong Hand – As a general rule, when a player acts strong, he’s probably weak and when a player acts weak, he’s probably got a really strong hand. Watch out for the players who overact during the betting process.
Physical Indications – Heart rate and adrenalin are involuntary reactions. If you notice a player’s hands are shaking, a rapid heartbeat in the throat or their chest rapidly rising and falling it probably means they are excited about a big hand.
Changes In Mannerism – A player who sits up straighter, puts on their reading glasses, quickly finishes their drink, or abruptly ends a conversation probably has a good playable hand.
Tries To Intimidate Their Opponent – If a poker player belligerently throws his chips in the direction of a particular player as a dare, he’s usually weak and is trying to intimidate that player into folding the better hand.
The Impatient Players – Impatience is usually a sign of a reasonably good hand. If they intended to fold, they probably wouldn’t care if it took a few extra seconds for the action to come around.
Grabbing For Their Chips – There are two ways to interpret this action so you must be paying attention. If the player is reaching for his chips in an aggressive SPG (whatever you bet, you will be called) manner before you’ve even acted, he is generally faking strength. But if you see a player setting up chips in a thoughtful (how much to bet or raise) passive way before the action gets to him, he might be thinking how much money he can make off of his good hand. This is where your ability at reading poker tells is put to the test.
Shows Signs of Indifference – When a player shrugs and says, “Oh, I guess I’ll call,” they are usually trying to hide a big hand.
Exposing One Of Their Hole Cards – Players who flash or expose one of their hole cards to an opponent or a neighbor, is trying to convince the potential caller that he has a good hand. If his hand were really that good, he’d be very careful to conceal and protect it.
Stop Doing What They Were Doing – Pay attention to the food eaters, the candy sucker, gum chewers and the book readers. When this type of activities stop, you can bet that they have a poker hand that they find favorable.
Body Language And Tics – Some poker players will fold their hands, scratch or rub their face, cover their mouth or any other number of little things that will give you subtle hints about the strength or weakness of their hand.
Although reading poker tells is not 100% reliable, it can be very interesting. Next time you are at the table, see how many poker tells you can pick up from the other players. Just remember that there is always someone else doing the same thing to you!
Poker Knowledge = Poker Skills = Poker Wins.
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