Recognising ‘tells’ in your opponent’s style of Texas Hold’em play can give you an advantage, but you should always bear in mind that this should not be viewed as an exact science.
Let’s first take a look at the most dependable form of tell before getting into reactions that commonly show whether your opponent(s) have strong or weak hands.
By far the most dependable tell during a poker session is a player’s betting patterns both past and present.
By studying these patterns, you are gaining invaluable insight into how an opponent plays a strong or weak hand. This leaves you in a far more advantageous position in deciding whether to pursue the bet at hand, check or fold.
We have all seen the movies…These tells are far too
A heap of variants
Human nature means that tells during a poker game will vary from player to player. Some will show specific physical signs when they have a big hand, others when they are bluffing. Then there are those who try false tells.
As you can see contradiction is part of the “telling game”, but your observation should become a habit that helps you sift through the multiple tells on display.
Bear the following in mind:
- A first tell is more often than not genuine
- The shortest tell is often the most reliable
- Long, drawn out tells tend to be falser. This is because opponents are taking time in consideration of how to confuse
- As a general rule: Weakness usually means strength – Strength usually means weakness
- It is important that you decide positively on how much weight to give a particular tell
A general guide to strong and weak tells
There are so many tells to mention that we will concentrate on strong and weak hand tells and simply give 10 of the most common in each section. Master these and you can then go on to increase your ‘tell’ knowledge base:
Strong hand tells:
- Shaking hands (not easy to imitate)
- Non-stop/constant speech
- Relaxed lips
- Big smile
- Longer stare at the Flop, then a quick, surreptitious glance at their opponents
- Suddenly becomes far more attentive
- Suddenly leaning back in their chair, more relaxed when calling or betting
- Slowly sliding chips into the pot or doing so in a careful manner
- Impatience – You can tell they want to bet
- Eyes open, less blinking
While most experts recommend you should look at an opponent’s eyes, don’t forget to also concentrate on their hands. Example: A trembling hand is generally an indication of a strong hand (unless that opponent always has shaking hands!).
Weak Hand tells:
- Breath held, body unmoving
- Rambling, higher pitched, slower or unnatural speech
- Aggressively pushing chips into the pot
- Trying to stare you down (we have touched on it – Strength means weakness!)
- Consciously checking hole cards after the flop
- Not looking after their hole cards
- Sticking out or licking their lips
- Noticeably breathing through their mouth
- Covers their mouth
- Eyes blinking more rapidly
Studying tells can improve your concentration
We have already pointed out that there are many poker tell variants and hopefully put over what an interesting part of hold’em they are to study.
There is also an added advantage to this part of your strategy: Studying your opponents will do wonders in terms of improving your own table concentration.
And, as you should all know by now. Concentration is key to upping your poker win ratio!