In poker, betting and identifying tells go hand-in-hand. Betting is what really helps you make or lose money, and observing tells of other people is one half of what decides whether you’d want to bet or fold. The latter, however, becomes especially tricky when you play online – after all, you don’t get to see your opponents’ faces online. Having said that, there are still ways through which you can make judgments on the skill level or the type of cards the people around you possess.
Originally, this was a move amateurs made to hide a great hand. They would just take a lot of time to make a bet on the river in order to confuse you into believing that their cards weren’t that good. However, since that tell became notoriously popular and people began to take it for granted, the more experienced players started using it as a reverse tell to actually hide a bad hand.
In other words, if you see someone stalling the bet, you need to look for the next piece of evidence that will tell you whether your opponent is an amateur who doesn’t know any better or an expert who knows far too much. You could look for it either from your experience with this person during previous games, or it could be something that comes later on. In the latter case, you’d at least be better prepared against that player in the next round.
Deviation from the regular pattern
While you’re out identifying stalls, you might also be wise to try and compare that finding against your knowledge of the regular betting pattern of your opponents. For example, if the person is known to stall all the time, there isn’t much to worry about. However, if the player plays fast usually and has suddenly begun to stall, it could mean that something is up.
On the other hand, if the person stalls and has suddenly begun to play more quickly, that’s good information to have in mind too. It could mean that he is now either not too careful or has a great hand. Again, you can narrow it down further based on prior experience with this person or by observing the result in the current round.
Automatic and instant raises
This is usually when you see raises occurring in split seconds – something no one can do unless they have asked their system to automatically call and raise the bets. This usually means that the player has a very strong hand. Of course, like every other tell, this too can be used as a reverse tell, but such a person doesn’t win for long. You’ll know soon enough whether someone’s genuinely in a strong position or just bluffing with automatic raises.
This, unlike the automatic raise, tells a different story. Rarely anyone does this when they have a strong hand. The more likely answer to such an event is that your opponent is just about ready to fold.
When you see this status on someone, it’s because they said something nasty, due to which the casino has now revoked their chat privileges. More often than not, this happens to people who can’t contain their emotions and engage in rude behavior online.
Regardless of whether or not their revocation was for being a sore loser or simply a bad-mouthed person, you can be sure that they don’t like the new status. In other words, you can use it to tease them into going on tilt. If nothing, it will definitely upset their mental state and make them more prone to mistakes. And if that doesn’t happen either, well, you haven’t lost anything anyway. Just be sure to not get your own status revoked in the process.
The perpetual challenger
This is the person you want to always play against – because more often than not, such people are long-term losers who end up throwing a lot of money away just to massage their egos every time they lose a few hands. Such a person will always invite you to a higher stakes game once you’ve defeated them for a couple or rounds in succession.
These are some of the tells that can help you add an extra dimension to your analysis of your cards and the moves you should be making. These tells are especially useful to know, because not only does this knowledge help you read your opponents better, but also gives you the power to use them as reverse tells on your opponents.
Some tips on avoiding such tells
Consistency is the best answer when it comes to hiding your tells. If you’re a great actor, you may even use reverse tells once you’ve set up your opponents’ expectations a certain way. However, if you haven’t really got that far, the least you could do is standardize your movements and gameplay to the point where you take the same amount of time, bear the same expression, and display the same demeanor regardless of whether you’re about to have a royal flush or the worst possible hand.
In order to practice such consistency, you have to become acutely aware of your physical and mental state when you’re playing. For example, do you have a tendency to look conscious or hold your breath when you bluff? If so, you need to neutralize that behavior.
Sometimes your opponents may even try to engage you in a conversation to break down the wall and see if you display any emotion to give away your position. Beware, and train yourself to always respond in a consistent manner irrespective of the type of hand you hold.
It’s true that real-world poker offers more ways to read your opponents, however, online poker affords you the best training of all – which is to base your decisions on what your opponents do instead of relying on visual cues on their faces. In fact, once you’ve learned how to make decisions based on the betting patterns of your opponents, it becomes a whole lot easier to look at someone’s expression and compare it against their actions to understand whether their tell is for real or simply meant to fool you.