This strategy comes from the French poker blog, Joueur de Poker. It applies to live poker games, as we don't have visual tells for online poker (until VR cash games are more popular).
But still, various poker rooms let you use their software for private home games. You can invite your friends online and use your webcams, then start looking for tells.
For the full list of poker rooms that offer private online home games, see our short guide.
- Increased first deposit bonus
- Increased rakeback and reloads
- Help with deposits and cashouts
- Access to closed freerolls
- Round-the-clock support
What if you could guess the strength of your opponent's hand just by looking at it?
It would be a lot easier to extract chips if you had this superpower.
What is a Tell and How to Spot Them
To win a hand and extract as many chips as possible from your opponents, you must demonstrate skill and reflection.
You face a situation in which your opponent's chips are on the line, and so is their survival in the tournament.
Observe them carefully, and if possible, make sure he doesn't notice that he is the subject of all your attention.
He will let out a few signs (tells) that will help you assess the strength of his hand. You will then be able to adjust your strategy accordingly.
1. Glancing at Chips
The scene: The dealer reveals the flop and a player hastens to look at his chips, then at yours. They hold and have just hit a set.
Let's decipher this player's attitude.
When he saw the flop, he was happy to see that he had hit his set.
He says to himself “Okay, I have a little over 25,000 and my opponent has more or less the same. Yum yum, it’s a good spot to extract maximum value!” This is one of the most obvious tells!
2. Staring at You
The scene: An inexperienced player bets. He keeps his seriousness and stares at you.
Why is he staring at us? We will answer that by the process of elimination.
- Does he want to intimidate us?
- Does he challenge us?
- Does it give the impression of being serene?
But if he is monstrous, why is he trying to intimidate us? Is he trying to intimidate us?
Always keep in mind that some players are not aware of his tells. In fact, it's an aspect of the game that they can completely neglect. For them, perhaps poker is logic, deduction, and math, but in any case, not observation. He is therefore not always aware that he gives the impression of strength.
3. The Chip Handling
The scene: A player is about to bet.
He gently grabs a small pile of chips with his right hand.
His hand trembles. His left hand is placed protectively above his cards, almost saying to you, “No one will take my hand!”
Is this fear, or perhaps, excitement?
4. Speed of Actions
The scene: A player is nervous, saying he no longer knows if it is his turn to play or not. He asks the dealer “Whose turn is it?” or he steals the action from his opponent (acting out of turn).
His impatience betrayed him and in this case, feigning confusion is probably a sign of strength.
5. Shaky Voices
The scene: Our opponent is about to bet. He announces “2 humm humm 2700” in an unclear, barely distinguishable, slightly wavering voice. A change in tone of voice usually indicates a lack of confidence.
Either they have a cold, a sore throat, or he could be bluffing you.
6. Chatty Players Suddenly Get Quiet
Some players are always in a good mood. Their company is appreciated. They chat, have fun, and tell his anecdotes.
The scene: One opponent open-raised and two people called. The flop reveals . Your opponent is suddenly much less active in the discussion.
He bets 2/3 of the pot.
Your once-chatty friend flopped something interesting and seems focused on playing this hand very carefully. You will probably have a better spot later. It may be a good time to avoid clashing with this opponent.
7. They Say Too Much (or Not Enough)
Some players will make false tells. They will want to appear strong when they are weak, or weak when they are strong. In the latter case, they will become more active if they feel that they are about to lose you. This sudden agitation can be seen as a sign of strength.
Please note that a bluffer will (almost) never want to appear weak.
The scene: Let's imagine that you have the 4th best possible combination and that an opponent pushes all-in. You have a very strong hand.
You start to question your opponent who takes the bait and answers you.
“Did you really hit your set?”
They answer, “No. I don’t have three of a kind.” Bingo! He tries to appear weak.
A bluffer would (usually) never do something like that. On the contrary, they will usually pray that you put him on three of a kind or better. Your questions are intended to eliminate hands that beat you from their range. If your opponent works with you to eliminate these hands, it's a clear sign of strength.
8. The Frozen Poker Player
"When I'm in the middle of a bluff, I don't want to appear suspicious. The simplest thing is to not move at all, that way my opponent won't notice anything weird.”
This could be the thought process of some inexperienced players.
It's a bit general, I grant you, but it's more or less what's happening in the subconscious of our less-experienced opponents.
9. Splashing the Pot
The scene: Our superhero raised pre-flop.
The board shows . A very dry board.
Your opponent bets by throwing his chips into the pot and the chips fall with a crash.
This is called splashing the pot. This also constitutes a departure from poker etiquette. This demonstration of casual force may be intended to scare you and get you out of the pot.
The scene: The 3rd has just fallen on the river.
Your opponent sighs and rolls his eyes. He shakes his head and looks annoyed. He says, “Well, too bad!” And he bets 3/4 of the pot.
Does this seem like a credible display to you?
You eat your cards, you throw them away, you burn them, but under no circumstances, do you call.
This is Not an Exact Science – Don't Rely on Tells
Everything you have just read is not an exact science. At most, it is part of a decision-making tool. Some players will react differently depending on the situation. The points I have just listed are, let's say, “the norm” or "baseline" for less experienced opponents.
Beware of false tells.
Some players will consciously let false tells leak. These will often be the most obvious to notice. Beware. Sometimes this will be overplayed. Stay on your guard.
This is the exact reason that a tell should not be the only point on which you will rely to make your decision. Use this tool only to reinforce a feeling.