Poker is a game, which is based on information availability. It requires human interaction and because humans are unpredictable, they tend to give out signs and show some distinctive changes in behaviour called tells. So, what is a poker tell?
A poker tell is basically the habit, behaviour and/or and physical action of your opponents in a poker game that will give you an insight of the strength of their hand.
Predators (often referred to as Poker players) feed on these tells. They keep an eye out for their prey and pounce when it’s the most vulnerable. Sometimes, a player may even fake ‘a tell’ to lure his opponents in to take the bait. After all, Poker is a game of deception.
Being able to pick up on some of these tells will give you a huge advantage when playing poker, particularity if you are playing a live poker game. Studying poker tells is effectively studying body language.
There are two forms of poker tells:
Betting patterns are the most common tells. They help you make the judgements of whether or not to check or bet. It’s essentially studying a player’s betting pattern – past and present. They will always remain one of the most primary tells in any variant.
This remains constant to live games. Physical tells are more than often dramatized in movies and television. They are the most fun to spot and at times can be the most deceiving too! Spotting accurate poker tells is hard. Learning and analysing a bunch of tells takes some time and work.
Tells vary from player to player, this is because of the unpredictability of humans. Some bluff, some tells are false and many are contradictory. The difficult part is spotting the most reliable one and exploiting it to your advantage. You can achieve accuracy by making observation a habit.
Since you can’t physically see your opponents when playing online, physical tells are clearly not going to apply. Remember though, that betting patterns are the most reliable of all poker tells. Look out for changes in a player’s betting pattern and observe their timing. A large amount of time before calling can sometimes mean a weak hand, and a fast call usually means a drawing hand. However, timing tells aren’t always reliable, since for all you know the online player is also reading a book, watching TV, rushing back from the bathroom or has poor internet connection.
No conclusions can be drawn from a single expression, emotion or movement. It always has to be in context. In addition, a ‘tell’ shouldn’t be overly weighted – a tell should adjust your decision, not make your decision completely.
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