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Poker Tells

A poker tell in poker is a detectable change in a player's behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player's assessment of his hand. A player gains an advantage if he observes and understands the meaning of another player's tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable. Sometimes a player may fake a tell, hoping to induce his opponents to make poor judgments in response to the false tell.

Acting Uninterested in a Hand While Still in It
This is usually a sign of a strong hand. The player is pretending that he's not excited about his cards – but he is.

Shaking Hands
During a hand, if you notice a player's hands are shaking as she places her bet, she probably has gotten a really, really good hand. Perhaps the nuts.

Rapid Breathing
Some players can control the shakes, but it's harder to control the automatic heart-racing that comes when you see pocket aces or hit the flop really hard. If you can see a player's chest visibly rising and falling, they have an excellent hand

Sighing and Shrugging
If a player makes a show of sighing or shrugging, and says things like “Oh, I guess I'll call,” or even “Why am I calling?” he probably is overacting and is trying to hide a big hand.

Glancing at Chips After Looking at Hole Cards
When a player looks down and sees strong hole or pocket cards, she may glance over at her chips to see just how much she can bet.

Chat Box
Just as in brick and mortar casinos, the “chattiness” of a player can be an obvious tell.  Generally, if a player who is chatting all of a sudden gets quiet, you can bet he is playing a set of good cards.  He is spending every ounce of focus on playing his cards and squeezing out the biggest pot possible. Watch the chat box also for players who are “steaming” or “on tilt

Waiting for the Big Blind
When you sit down at a Hold 'em table, many times you'll have the option of “waiting on the big blind“ to get to you, or you can post a matching big blind and start playing immediately.  This a good tell on how patient and online player will be.  If he is not patient enough to wait on the big blind to get around to him, he might not be very patient about waiting on good starting hands.  Expect him to be a loose player.  The opposite holds true for players who do wait on the big blind.  Either they are patient or cheap.  Both are pretty good qualities to have if you are playing online poker.  Cheap players, even when they are not especially skilled will tend to wait on better hands since they are loathe to throw away their bets! 

Kathleen K. Watterson has written two great articles about Online Poker Tells. We strongly suggest that you read them if you play online poker. The articles can be found here:


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