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Online Poker Tells

Posted by Bill "zimba" Seibert 3 years, 35 weeks ago
One of the best feelings in poker is when you trust your read and pick off a big bluff. It gives you extreme confidence in your game, that you are trusting your instincts and making smart decisions. To the beginner it would seem that online poker doesn’t offer the tells that live poker offers. You can look into their eyes, or read their body language. While online poker player’s bodies may not betray their thoughts, their actions often do. Any action that inadvertently betrays information is a tell. In the online realm, tells involve the timing of bets, the sizing of bets, automated actions, and the player chat behavior. Experienced players can learn to mix up their patterns of play in an attempt to confuse and manipulate their opponents, but many players fall into more predictable patterns nonetheless.
Timing tells are some of the most noticeable tells.

1) If a player usually makes fast decisions and then suddenly times down it means one of two things typically. Either they have a big hand that they are trying to make look weak, or they are trying to create a reverse tell by waiting to make a big bluff.

Any deviation from their normal betting timing is worthy of noting.

2) For instance, if a player is quickly calling you on the flop or turn, they are likely to mediocre hand with some value. They would take longer to make a decision if they were raising or folding. They may be on a decent draw too, but unlikely to play a strong made hand that way.

3) The delayed check is where a player takes longer than normal to check to you doesn’t want you to bet and trying to display strength so they can see the next card for free.

4) The instant bet into you on the river is almost always strength that they are trying to portray as a desperate bluff.

5) When a player has check called your flop bet and the turn brings a drawing card, and they lead into you, that usually indicates weakness. They figure you were just continuation betting, they have not picked up a draw and they are now semi bluffing. Raising them, even as a bluff can be quite profitable.

Paying attention to the timing tells can help you decipher if a quick bet is confidence or a bluff.

Chat tells are often similar to live play talking tells.

1) Players who chat a lot in a big confrontation, no matter whether they are telling you to call or fold, are often giving away their confidence and strength.

2) Players who are ranting or complaining about losing a previous hand are often on some kind of tilt. They are likely to play looser and more aggressively, chasing their loss or just steaming. They may complain about their stupid opponents or the rigged software of the poker room. You want to play against players on tilt.

3) Similarly, players who gloat or taunt after winning hands are normally insecure weak tight players who take each win personally. It is seldom that a long term regular winner would act like that. It is much easier bluff someone boasting or gloating because they want to protect their recent winnings.

4) Players who lecture others on their play are typically new to the game and insecure about playing poker the some artificially rigid right way. They are also exploitable as not wanting to look bad in the game or be shown up.

A lot of information can be gained from paying attention to automated actions.

1) If the big blind as call/fold to bet set, their check will be instantaneous indicating that they have a weak hand and would have folded to any bet.

2) If they have the auto raise button on preflop, it’s usually strength as they feel confident then will raise any action that has happened before them.

3), Post flop, the same automatic raise can be a sign of false strength, where someone is trying to protect a marginal hand.

4) Players who limp then instantly call the raise typically have mediocre or speculative hands that they are afraid to raise, but they want to see a cheap flop.

5) The instant call after you bet is usually a weak calling hand that wants you to believe they have a stronger hand than they do and hopes you won’t bet into them again.

Bet sizing is one of the best online tells for inexperienced players.

1) A newer player that has learned the basics of the game feels that certain bet sizes are ideal for situations like when they have top pair, top kicker, or they have a flush draw, or if they are protecting an overpair. They don’t realize that their bet sizing is giving away the strength of their hand. They are so concerned with making the correct play that they forget to vary their play.

2) Their pre-flop betting tells are even more obvious. If they limp in a hand, they are typically doing it with medium hands like K,J, low pairs, and suited connectors; not A,K, big pairs, or big broadway cards that they will typically raise.

If you pay close attention, most of your opponents will give away some kind of online tells at the table. Their betting actions and chat behavior reveal significant information. Be careful though, as the same action from two different players can mean different things. When playing many tables and thousands of hands online, players fall into patterns of play that can be exploited if you discover their particular pattern.
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