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There are two types of poker tells.  There are physical signs that players give.  There are visceral tells that include every non-physical sign.  Some players think that all tells in online poker are visceral tells.  This is a mistake; even in online poker, there are physical tells.

Land Based and Online Poker

In this article, we will talk primarily about the kinds of tells you might be able to recognize in a land based poker game.  In the next article, we will take the art of telling tells to the online poker arena!

The Great Unknown

Poker is a game of using the known to ferret out the unknown.  Even in Texas Holdem, where there are ultimately five community cards, the two unknown hole cards often change the hand in dramatic fashion.  Who can forget the immortal words of Daniel Negreanu, “pocket sixes pocket fours”?

Negreanu didn’t figure that out by reading a tell.  He figured it out by using the known to make a very good guess at the unknown.

Poker Tells Illuminate the Unknown

Poker tells are just a part of the known.  As such, we need to use tells to help us divine the unknown.  Tells are often over-rated and often under-rated.  We should give tells their due as one of many ways to help us figure out a hand.

Obviously, if we are up against a good player who hides his emotions and the strength or weakness of his hand well, we need a lot more than tells to determine our next course of action.

Still, understanding and being able to identify tells can be a major weapon in a player’s arsenal.

How Many Physical Tells are There?

We are reminded of a great comedy routine by the great Cajun storyteller and comedian Justin Wilson.

It’s a long story but well worth it!

Now you know how many physical tells there are!

Okay, What are the Most Common Physical Tells?

First we have to divide physical tells into tells in the way a player plays and all other physical tells.  For instance, if a player wears sunglasses it might mean that he is sensitive to lights or it might mean that she feels that without the sunglasses, her eyes would give her hand away and she has not yet learned how to prevent that tell.

The sunglasses are now a major prop.  Does she fidget with it?  Does she take it off and clean the lenses too often?  Does she seem comfortable or uncomfortable wearing them?

The type of sunglasses is also a tell!  If they are clearly very expensive glasses, it might indicate a penchant for showing off and showing off might indicate arrogance.  Now, observe how that player plays several hands.  Does he seem to feel that he is somehow “owed” the pots?  If he demonstrates such low level respect for the table, he might be a prime target to have him separated from his money!

The Clothes Make the Player

The type of clothes a player wears is also a major tell.  Some players try to throw opponents off by dressing too nicely or conversely dressing in an almost bum-like manner.

These are both tells in that they demonstrate a lack of confidence.  The rules that used to obtain (before so many cruises were grounded, as it were, by the corona virus) on most cruises—a dress code of “sharp casual”—should be the go to way to dress for poker: not too nice but still pretty nice!

When a woman wears a top that is clearly intended to distract the males from the game, she is demonstrating that she needs her breasts to gain an edge.  A sharp opponent can use that low level of self-confidence to his and even her advantage!

What Does the Player Do between Hands?

How a player deals with all the free time on hands that they fold out of is a major non-physical tell.  Players who fold correctly have to pay close attention to what happens on the hand!  They can learn about betting patterns, the kind of hands their opponents play, bluffing, and much more.  Not paying attention indicates a weakness of mind that a sharp opponent can exploit.

Some players, especially at low stakes, will simply not fold hands that they should fold.  This is largely because the stakes are so low that they feel they can afford to see the flop.  It may also be because they don’t want to be bored waiting for the hand to end and the next hand to be dealt.

If a player has folded and now seems bored, inattentive, and distracted, it tells opponents that even in hands that that player stays in, he or she will be distracted and will not give the hand the attention it deserves.  In such hands, a sharp opponent with a good hand can get the inattentive opponent to add money to the pot above any sum that poker math might have indicated as appropriate.

Is the Player Taking Some Time to Calculate?

Once again, careful attention to the many small details a player gives might help you determine if the player is calculating to find the best amount to bet and get a value bet in return, is pretending to do so, or has no idea what to do and is just taking some time before guessing on their next course of action.

Now let’s use the little space we have left to talk about three of the many physical poker tells.

Does the Player Lean in or Lean Back?

Sitting in a chair is uncomfortable after a while.  Everyone has to adjust their position from time to time just for simple comfort.  The time to do so is as the cards are being dealt or during a hand that the player has already folded out of.  However, if the player fidgets in his or her chair just after looking at their hole cards or after looking at the flop, this is a major tell.

No one should fidget over the cards!

Does the Player Stare?

Many players think that staring off into space doesn’t reveal anything about their hand.  Staring off into space reveals that the player is trying to hide something.  In and of itself, it doesn’t mean that the player has either a good hand or a poor hand; it simply means that the player is hiding the true nature of his or her hand.

Now, if you have been paying close attention like you should have been, you will be able to use this information to give a strong indication as to whether the player is hiding a good hand or a poor hand.

Fidgeting is a Very Important Tell

We spoke about fidgeting in one’s seat during a hand.  Fidgeting in general is a big tell.  Fidgeting comes in many forms.  Does a player who wears glasses adjust them too often?  Does a player count their stack repeatedly?  Does a player re-arrange their chips instead of paying attention to the hand and letting the chips be?  Does the player play with chips in a manner that indicates that the chips are actually more important to them than the game itself?

During the corona virus scare, we have been told to avoid touching our face and to wash our hands regularly.  This is a good lesson for poker players as well!  Players who touch their face, their hair, their beard, their shirt collar and fidget incessantly are indicating that they are either bored, unsure of themselves, distracted, or taken by any other state of mind that doesn’t allow them to fully engage in the game.

Juicy Stakes Poker Welcomes Poker Players

Juicy Stakes goes the extra mile to make poker playing more enjoyable.  Not only do we offer poker in several poker variations and several stakes levels, we also publish many articles that we intend to be helpful to players at all skill levels!

In an upcoming article, we will take the idea of tells to the online poker arena where the challenge to identify tells is greater.

We urge all players who are not yet a part of our great poker experience to join Juicy Stakes Poker NOW!


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