When you were a kid, your mother knew when it was you who stole cookies from the cookie jar. When you grew up and married, your partner knew when you weren't in the mood for some lovin'. When you had kids, you knew when your daughter got pregnant without being told.
Okay, so maybe that's not exactly how your life has gone. But the point is, in normal life we know what a person is feeling or thinking inside. Especially when we know them well. How is this possible? Tells. Because we humans (and animals too) have emotions, we all give off tells that betray our moods. Not even the most stone-cold person can get rid of tells totally.
Tells also play a major role in US Online poker. In poker you keep secrets: what cards you have and what you plan to do with them. Knowing how to read poker tells lets you in on these secrets, giving you an advantage over opponents that don’t have a read based game.
Kinds of Poker Tells
These are general tells and are not 100% reliable. Tells that tell you a player has a strong hand include: trembling of hands, sweating and other signs of nervous excitement; sighs, clacks (“tsk, tsk”) and curses loud enough to be heard; weak bets and quick glances at the board and chips. These players often pretend to be uninterested in their hands. They can chat freely with others when they are sure they will win.
Another sign of a good hand is when a player who has been folding a lot of hands suddenly plays their hand. In general, when a tight player plays a hand, you should give them credit for having at least a decent hand. On the other hand, if a player is loose, don't give them credit for having a monster often. Call them more often.
A common tell of someone unsure of their hand is looking back at their cards when new cards appear on the board. It is easy to forget the suits of your cards, and even denomination if they are low. When you see someone looking back, they may be checking if the board helped them. Then again, it may also be a ploy to deceive you.
Another sign of uncertainty is when a player takes a while before making a decision. Again, this can be a ploy. But if not, the player is trying to judge if a bet is worth calling and so on. If it's their turn, they may be measuring someone else's chips to try to bluff or bully them out of the pot.
For bluffing weak hands, common tells are shows of confidence, unnatural stillness, and over-emphasized gestures. They study their cards, the board and the pot for too long. They look exceptionally interested in a hand. They look aggressive in general but you don't know toward whom (actually no one!). Usually this is someone who is stone-cold bluffing, that is bluffing with a total loser hand.
Win More, Lose Less
Poker tells do two very important things for you:
- Save your money from bigger losses.
- Help you win pots you would otherwise have lost.
When you know from poker tells that a player has a monster hand, you can fold and save your money.
When you know from poker tells that a player is bluffing, you can call or raise and continue playing for the pot.
Poker tells help you win more from other players and save more of your own money. That is the real benefit of poker tells and why they are so important.