How to Read Poker Players’ Tells [& Win Hands]

Content Team 1年前
How to Read Poker Players’ Tells [& Win Hands]

Do you want to play poker like a pro? Then you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’ll explain what poker tells are and discuss what you should do in different scenarios when playing against gamblers.


What Is a Tell in Poker?

A tell in poker is a change in a player’s behavior, mood, or approach—a physical or verbal action that gives clues to that player’s strength of hand. Finding poker tells is based on the premise that people unwittingly reveal their cards via observable behavior. A player gains an advantage by observing and interpreting another competitor’s tell, especially if the tell is unconscious and dependable. Consequently, reading behavioral tells is possible only at live poker tables, while online poker players need to focus on unintentional patterns or actions.

To become successful in poker tells, you must constantly evaluate the accuracy in the context of the situation at hand. Interestingly, a tell may be useful even if it’s just under 50 percent correct. In this scenario, if the pot was $400 and you paid $100 to call, you would have won $400. Let’s add that the only hand you can defeat is a bluff. If such an occurrence happened five times and you called every time, you’d need your opponent to bluff only once to break even. To put it another way, you’d have to win 20% of the time.

If you were led to believe by a tell that there was a 40% probability that your opponent was bluffing, it would be in your best interest to call. Note the following fact: A player never bluffs, but he appears to bluff at the current moment. Namely, when you recognize the tell, the chances of him bluffing are far higher than when you don’t.

If you want to learn how to read people in poker, you need to follow a couple of rules:

  • Don’t glance at your cards; observe your opponent.
  • Don’t stare at the flop, turn or river in Hold ’em; observe your opponent!
  • When the next stud card appears, OBSERVE YOUR OPPONENT!


Tells from Unaware Players

In this part, I’ll go over common tells from unaware players



Despite the fact that the vast majority of tells occur during play, we can gain valuable insight into our opponent’s strategy even when they’re not involved in a poker hand. You should pay attention to certain aspects of each player’s play for hints about their poker strategy.

Well-dressed individuals, in particular, are more likely to play it safe. On the other hand, a guy with a tattered suit and a loosened tie is more likely to be in a gambling mode and play more loosely. Certainly, those who wear religious amulets and good luck charms or exercise superstitious habits tend to be more luck-conscious and liberal with their stakes than average players. Generally, women are less likely to bluff.

To maximize your profit while you’re against an unknown opponent, assume that he or she will play like a stereotype until you discover otherwise. Players tend to remember denominations (like Ace, Deuce, and King) better than suits.


Stacking Chips

Stacking chips is rarely used as a ploy. The neatly organized stack suggests that the player will probably play carefully and hardly ever bluff, so look for more chips on his big stacks because that’s his profit. You may bluff by betting marginally more than his profit. When winning, players are hesitant to call, yet a bad call might cost them. After they enter a hand, don’t play medium-strength hands; try bluffing them and calling less when they bet. Uneven stacks indicate reckless play. Such a player’s approach is overly liberal, but he may profit from big hands with aggressive play. Call more frequently and bluff less.


Sharing a Hand

Sometimes a player will show his hand to a fellow player who has folded or a friend who has approached the table. Two-player hands reveal a lot about an opponent’s hand. If the observer arrives mid-hand, he’s the one to watch. He’ll employ kindergarten psychology and act the opposite to the hand’s strength. However, players are unaware that they tend to follow a trend when a hand is disclosed from the start.

Usually, players with weak hands won’t display their hands for two reasons:

  • First, he may unintentionally show that he plays poorly.
  • Second, the spectator may tip off his opponents to his poor hand, losing him the pot.

If gamblers share the hand, it’s likely good enough to warrant involvement. Strong players can utilize this tell to bluff. If you suspect that’s the case, observe the onlooker. The best tactic isn’t to bet or call without at least a solid hand.


Glancing at Chips

Players will only steal a look at their chips when they’re contemplating a raise, and almost always because they have improved their hand, which is the most useful tell you can notice. You’ll see it when you’re observing beginners, average, experienced, and even world-class players.

First, be sure the glance isn’t an act. When players focus on their chips while thinking you’re observing, it’s definitely an act. However, the pattern of gazing at the hand, then the stack, then away, practically cannot be an act because they don’t know if you’re watching.

Poker and computer expert Michael Wiesenberg provides a correlated tell. Bettors may look at your chips before making a bet, which is rarer than checking your own stack. If the gaze is quick and short, it usually suggests the player loves his hand and is ready to bet. On the other hand, if your opponent stares at your chips long after he sees his hands, he may be bluffing.

Sandbagging is the term for swiftly glancing at chips, quickly looking away, and then raising. Even if you are sure your opponent will bet, you can still use sandbagging as a potent poker weapon. It’s conceptually identical to staring at the flop. Your opponent knows very well that the flop helped, so this studying is unnecessary. You won’t catch a bluff in these circumstances, nor should you bluff yourself.


Other Common Tells

Tell Strategy
Players who ask for chips flamboyantly play aggressively and carelessly Call more often/bluff less often
Hiding bankroll/wallet implies conservative play Call less often/bluff more often
Leaned back/arms folded implies player is in no gambling mood, waiting for good hand Rarely enter a hand
Leaned back/arm not folded, looking uninterested implies patience If you’re playing in front, play slightly weaker hands
Stack scattered after a win, winner enters hand Very rarely bluff from scratch, give value to their hands
A gambler shuffling hand indicates that the hand needs help to become very strong Use logic
Uncontrollable shaking is a release of tension, not fear Fold unless you also hold a nuts hand
Covering mouth with hand implies unconscious avoidance of examination Call with average or even weak hands
Instinctive double-check for a two-pair or a suit in a hole Consider your own hand and play accordingly
When a gambler takes time to enjoy a cigarette, he’s not afraid of the call 60% reliable, fold unless you have a very strong hand
Sudden interest (leaning forward/stopping the humming) usually indicates a very good hand Enter with caution and don’t bluff
Opponent is taking his/her time on a tough decision Encourage the calls if you raised on strength hands. If you’re bluffing, discourage the call
Raising after a long hesitation is a bluff in 50% of the cases Call
Lack of hesitation implies the hand didn’t improve Bet accordingly
Closely protected hands are usually strong If this player opens, pass with all borderline hands
Closely protected hands are usually strong If you hold a strong hand, check rather than open, knowing this player will open for you


Tells from Actors

Before using an actor’s tells, you need to be pretty sure that he’s acting and not just unaware. It’s probably an act if the player has a reason to think you might be recognizing a certain behavior, and he would benefit from you being wrong. Undoubtedly, strong players are less likely to give you tells. Not only would they withhold the most common poker tells, world-class players often try to trick by turning some of the more obvious tells around.


Weak Means Strong

If poker players can persuade you that they have a bad hand when they have a great hand, they’ll win a few extra calls. Strong hands are why players go to great lengths to look weak. No player who actually holds a weak hand would ever disclose that. Neither would you expect a bluffer to admit he’s bluffing. It’s because they’re strong that they act weak.


The Shrug

By shrugging and then raising the poker player is suggesting he’s unsure about the bet and that his hand could be a lot stronger. Don’t take the bait here. There’s only one reason he would do this – he has a near-certain winner on his hands. The best strategy is to call only with strong hands; call with the majority of hands you would generally raise with and don’t bluff.


The Look Away

Those who glance away from the action are more threatening than those who maintain an eye on the bettors. They don’t want to do anything to discourage the bet, so be ready for a raise. There are no two ways to do this, so make sure your hand is strong before putting any additional money into this pot. If you raised first, you might want to consider abandoning your bet.

Furthermore, the quick look away after seeing the flop is even more telling. Only play excellent hands and fold any that you believe might be mildly advantageous. If you have a strong hand, allow your adversary to do the betting for you, and dare not bluff.


The Discard

Those who act like they’re going to fold their hole cards before the action reaches them are a threat. Why are they doing this if they’re not attempting to deceive you? Essentially it’s a double move — a player tells the opponent in front that he can raise, and he encourages those behind to call. However powerful your hand may be, it’s best to let the opponent bet on your behalf.


The Hesitation

With the long hesitation, the goal is to make the initial bettor think that raising is a difficult choice. His lengthy delay is an attempt to make you believe his raise is weak. When a player does nothing to prevent a big bet, thinks for a long time, and then makes a big raise, it’s unlikely that he’s bluffing. If you’re willing to part with some nice hands, you’ll come out ahead here. What you save by not calling is real money, and you stay in the game waiting for the right opportunity.


Strong Means Weak

In terms of dollars, catching players who are acting strong is even more valuable. When you determine that a player is acting weak, you’ll often save a call, but the value is just a fraction of the total pot. Conversely, when you catch a player acting strong, you’ll utilize that to make a call and win the entire pot.


The Stare

Players stare at a bad flop, trying to appear dangerous. By seeming interested, they want to dissuade betting. As previously covered, you realize that players who like flops tend to look away. Now is the time for a good bluff. Also, call more liberally since he’s likely weak or bluffing.

Players making eye contact with the bettor are trying to do the same. Another reason opponents keep an eye on your bets is to ensure they won’t get short-changed. You may assume an opponent is attempting to act strong when he’s only keeping an eye on your stake amount. Aim to elicit a call from a weaker hand by betting medium-strength hands. Bluff as a last resort.


Reaching for Chips

By grabbing his chips out of turn and looking at his cards, the gambler hopes to seem threatening and prevent them from opening with marginal hands, indicating that the outcome is a sure thing. In this case, you should open with any marginal hand, even those you wouldn’t have considered.

Strong players may grab the pot early to provoke a call. The rules change when a player grabs the pot while an opponent is passing. The bettor seeks to win the pot by removing an opponent’s remaining uncertainties. Any player with a winning hand will let you call. Even with a weak hand, consider calling or raising to bluff.


Other Actor Tells

Tell Strategy
If a player bets and then checks his hand as you grab for chips, he’s bluffing Check/Call
‘Accidentally’ exposing means players are trying to convey strength hands Call
Active player looking as if the pot is far from his mind, is a dangerous opponent Don’t bluff, play only extremely strong hands and even then, check
Pretending to pass to encourage bets Don’t bluff, don’t bet and pass
Keeping their hands off their chips to encourage bets Don’t bet into or call without a very strong hand
Looking at the bettor and reaching for chips to discourage bets Bet marginal hands for value. Think about bluffing, but be careful
The player who gently slides his bet is hoping for a call Don’t call without an extremely strong hand
The bettor who puts chips down with a little extra force hopes for a fold Call/Raise if you can’t win in a showdown
Sweeping gestures with outstretched arms are used to lure a call by using strange behavior Fold unless you hold a strong hand
The player who looks and bets at the same time wants to lure a call You need a good hand to call
Player won’t look right at the bettor, but his eyes suggest otherwise Fold
Looking away with eyes on the pot Don’t bet
Verbal poker tells like sighs or sounds of sorrow imply good hands Beware


Online Poker Patterns

When it comes to gaining knowledge about our opponents, learning to recognize and identify typical online betting patterns is crucial in 2022. Bear in mind that online poker tells are different from those used in live games.

It’s important to know some terms used at poker sites:

  • Tanking implies taking a longer time to decide
  • A strange or typed-in bet is a raise in the odds amount, like $7.99
  • Instead of verbal poker tells, there’s now a chat feature that should be considered
Move Tell
The Check Then Insta-Call Marginal hand, likely to fold if not improved
Tank-Checking Hoping to see another card
Tank-Calling Quite possibly a fairly strong hand
Big raise after Tank Possibly nuts
Massive Overbet Rarely a bluff
Strange amount bets Value bets, not bluffing
Complaining about lost hand Play often against this player
Talker goes quiet Watch out
Buying in for Unusual Amounts Be involved in hands against these players



If your goal is to play poker successfully, don’t jump to conclusions right away when you spot poker tells. Instead, take your time and display uncertainty. By using this approach, your opponent will be less likely to change his behavior, and you’ll be able to keep reading poker tells that your opponent gives.

Finally, as the games grow harder, you must take advantage of whatever advantage you can uncover. You won’t improve your win rate if you disregard or don’t follow what other players are doing.

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August 1, 2022
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