Poker Strategy: Online Poker Tells, Spotting a Bluff, and an inside look at devious Online Poker Play.

Poker Tells – Reading Your Opponents

Reading your opposition should be a key factor in any good poker strategy. Learning to read your opponents is not difficult, but can take some time to master. The first step is to learn the most common poker tells.

A ‘Poker Tell’ is a characteristic behavioral pattern shared by most poker players, especially those with less experience. The most skilled poker players will keep a straight face at all times, even going so far as to wear sunglasses or in as in the case of one pro poker player, a hoody sweatshirt to avoid being read by their opponents. Needless to say, this is the strategy you should be using.

Common Poker Tells

1. Eyes: The eyes are the key to the soul, as they say, and this is very true in a home or college poker game, in casinos, anywhere but online; the eyes never lie. When a player spends a longer than usual amount of time looking at their hole cards, this usually means they have a great hand, such as a pocket pair. If a player in late position is stealing glances at the players before him who have not yet bet, he is likely watching them to see if he should bluff/raise to steal the blinds.

2. Facial Expressions: Poker players often have facial reactions to their hole cards, or the Flop/Turn/River. Generally, a nervous reaction or ‘tic’ (rubbing the chin, scratching nose, fingers through hair, etc.) is a sure sign of a weak hand. Watch for your opponents to do this regularly to get an even better read on upcoming hands.

3. Anxious Behavior: When a player has a good hand, they become more anxious as they are anticipating a confrontation. While these signs are not obvious, the true observer will notice the difference in behavior. The signs of anxiety include faster breathing, accompanied by a slightly higher pitched voice or faster rate of speech, dilation of the pupils, dry throat and inconspicuous muscle flexing. If a player has a noticeable vein on their forehead (you know the ones), keep an eye on it for changes in blood pressure.

4. Reverse Psychology: This is more commonly associated with beginner poker players, but even the pros have been known to use reverse psychology in a poker strategy. The idea is to play off a good hand as being weak by showing disinterest, or acting frustrated, bored, etc. Conversely, when bluffing a weak hand, the player will sit up straight, become interested in the pot and be in a very good mood. In reality, every player knows they should be wearing a poker face. If a player is blatantly presenting a great hand, they probably don’t have it.

5. Eyeing the Chips: When a player glances at their chip stack after the Flop, this generally means they connected. It is an unconscious reaction that says they’re calculating a battle plan.

6. Hole-Card Double Take: When the Flop comes down, revealing a potential Flush draw, many players will check their hole cards again to see if they have the suit. This usually means the player’s cards are not suited, but he doesn’t remember exactly what suits they were.

7. Quivering Hands: Since a player cannot always control their nervous system, trembling hands or fingers can be a sure-tell sign that they are holding a great hand. If you notice this reaction, beware!

8. Body Language: While most poker pros know better, most poker players will show significant differences in body language based on their attitude and hand development. For example, slouching would relate to a weak hand, while sitting up straight would mean they have a good hand and are finally ready for some action. Bluffers tend to lean forward when bluffing, emanating a more intimidating, confrontational attitude, essentially daring someone to call their bluff. Watch for shoulder slumping and other changes in body position.

9. Chip Stacking: Though not always accurate, this observation relates to a players poker strategy. If a player keeps his chips neatly stack and organized at all times, they are probably playing a tight/aggressive poker strategy. In the same token, a sloppy chip stack usually relates to a loose poker strategy.

10. Repetitive Betting: This behavioral pattern takes time to observe accurately, but many players will maintain a repetitive betting pattern for various situations. For example, some players will always Check with the Nuts, while others may Fold every time they are re-raised. Watch for these patterns and make a mental note, as they can be extremely profitable in the long term.

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