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Poker Tells - Use Live and Online Poker Tells to Your Advantage

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A poker tell is by definition a particular mannerism or change in a player's behavior that might "tell" other players, or at least give away clues to what type of hand the player is holding.

If a player learns how to interpret these tells, she will have an obvious advantage when it comes to making the right decisions at the poker table. Some players may for example exhibit shaking hands when holding an exceptionally strong hand, which would indicate a good time to fold a weaker holding.

In the movies, tells in poker are often emphasized and exaggerated, but in a real life poker game there will rarely be enough tells to substitute solid poker knowledge. Although noticing and adapting to the possible tells or behavioral patterns of your opponent may certainly give you an edge. They must be used with a good measure of caution, however, since many skilled players will attempt to give away fake tells just to throw you off.


Trembling hands or rapid breathing: Could be due to a surge of adrenalin after catching some good cards or hitting the flop really hard.

Double-checking hole cards after the flop: If the flop contains three cards to a flush or a straight, players who re-check their hole cards will probably not have a made hand, but may be checking if they are on a draw.

Glancing at chips: Players who look at their hole cards and then subconsciously glance at their chips may be preparing to make a move with a strong hand.

Paying close attention to the pre-flop action: Players who suddenly become very interested in what happens before the flop usually hold a very playable hand.

Strong means weak - weak means strong: A lot of players act confidently or try to stare down their opponents when they bluff, and correspondingly act "weak," timid or uninterested when they have an excellent hand.

Online Poker Tells

When you can't see your opponents you have to focus on their betting patterns instead and to some extent their betting speed and use of pre-select buttons. These "tells" are obviously much more subtle and can easily be manipulated.


Thinking for a long time and then checking: This is usually a sign of weakness. The player who pretends to think for a while before checking usually just wants his opponents to check behind.

A very fast raise in fixed limit games: This could mean that the player is using the pre-select "raise any"-button, which could indicate a very strong hand.

An instant check: This is usually a sign of weakness unless the player check-raises.

Taking time before betting/raising: The player tries to represent a weak hand by thinking for a while, but is usually holding a strong hand.