Since OhCaptain just posted about tells on his poker blog, I thought I would follow up on some tells as well.
What is a Poker Tell?
A poker "tell" is any behavior or habit that your opponent does that can signal the strength or weakness of his hand. By watching for a tell you will be in a better position to make the right decisions at the poker table.
First, you need to be thinking about looking for tells before you sit down at the table and when you sit down at the table.
Yes, you need a plan. Looking for tells is difficult. You need to commit to learning this skill. It is not easy.
Second, select one player at the table that you'll end up playing the most against, and focus on his play. The most likely candidates are the player to your immediate left and/or right since you'll be heads up in the blinds against them.
Example: At a poker tournament in Reno, the woman to my left would reveal if she would play her hand or not on where she placed her card protector. If it was on the cards, after she looked at her hole cards, she was folding. If it was off the cards, she was playing. After I peeked at my cards, I always waited for her to look at her cards, and where she was going to place that protector, before deciding what action to take.
8 Poker Tells That Work (Usually)
1. Players who act strong are weak, and players who act weak are strong.
I know you've read this idea a million times, but it still works. Today, when that experienced player moved all-in on the flop, and I had an overpair I took a long time to decide what to do. I had pocket 10's and the flop was all rags. My opponent was acting so weak, I knew he had to be strong so I folded. He showed pocket Queens.
2. Players who talk after they bet will often have something to talk about.
They just can't hold back their excitement about having a strong hand. I will fold if a player who has been quiet for a long time, bets and starts talking to me.
3. Players who peek at their cards after a flop comes with three suited cards, do not have two cards of that suit.
If they had the flush, they wouldn't need to look. Next time you do hit the flush on the flop, look at your cards and make sure your opponent notices. You will take down a big pot.
4. Players who make a bet, and then are motionless and hold their breath, are often bluffing.
This is not set in stone. But, this player doesn't want to give away their bluff, so they just sit still.
5. Players who bet too fast when a scare card hits, don't have the made hand that scare card would provide.
Again, this is not always the case. Trust but verify based on prior observations.
6. A player who calls a flop bet without thinking is usually on the draw.
The reason this tends to be true is because if he had top pair, two pair, or a set, he would stop and think about what to do after the bet was made. Wouldn't you? A draw is just a simple call. Not much to think about in that situation.
7. Players who jump out of their seat after they move all-in pre-flop, have not made a play for a long time, and then stay to hover at the table, are strong.
Again, they are excited, or they want the action. In either case, lean toward folding.
8. Players who make a pre-flop raise and then watch the action around the table like a hawk, may have pocket Aces.
You will notice these players since they want the action. They will often try to hide that they are looking at the action after their bet, but they can't wait to jump if someone who raises.
These poker tells are a guide. Trust but verify is a good rule.
But once you find a reliable tell on your opponent, your results will improve significantly when you play against him.