There is no secret about it, Poker is one of the most intense and strategic games there is to date. In order to play successfully, you will need a good knowledge of the cards and their values. It is a very competitive game and your opponents will be watching you play very closely.
A “tell” in Poker terms, is a number of things. The most common being movements and facial expressions. Many pro players use these to their advantage to find out what a player is thinking, how good their cards are or to guess what their next move might be. They also can use this to spot if an opponent has been handed a good or bad card, influencing their own plays.
This is where the term “Poker Face” comes from, as many Poker players tend to keep their faces emotionless in order to stop being clocked by their opponents.
Here we will go through the most common “tells” and how to spot them. Knowing these “tells” is very important if you want to play poker on a professional level or for real money bets.
When someone twitches, they are instantly noticeable to other players. This includes things such as moving hands, touching hair and sniffing/moving your nose. It is one of the easiest ways of being caught out, with many pro players picking up on it. To play successfully all hand and face movement should be kept to a minimum.
- Laughing Nervously
If you have a bad hand and try to laugh it off, chances are people will be able to tell its a fake laugh. Any sort of nervous behaviour is a giveaway that something is not right and you are panicking.
- Talking About Non-Poker Related Topics
One way people tend to get caught off-guard is by changing the topic of conversation. If someone spots you trying to distract them away from the game then they will wonder why you are doing it, whether it is because you have a bad hand or want to make other players lose concentration so they play worse, chances are a pro player would catch you out.
- Looking in the Opposite Direction
Facial expression is a very big giveaway. New players may find it difficult to stop natural reactions such as looking away when you have a good or bad hand. If someone sees you looking in the other direction and not focusing on the game they most likely know something is up.
- Messing with Jewellery
A natural reaction when anxious is to play with items of clothing, hair or jewellery. To show that you are relaxed you need to keep hands away from any distractions as you will be spotted very easily otherwise. Poker requires a straight face and body to avoid giving away any hints to other players.
- Being Impatient
When it comes to taking your turn in a game of poker, you should be calm and collected. If someone sees you rushing and playing cards fast without thought then they will know you are either panicking or have bad cards. Take your time and choose carefully.
- Trying to Make People Laugh
This one isn’t so easy to spot as many games of poker involve joking around, however, if someone is trying to make you laugh that could be a sign of them trying to distract you from your own thought process so that you play the wrong card or cannot concentrate.
- Becoming Angry
Unlike the last, this one is very easy to spot. If someone is getting upset or angry then there will be a reason for it. Whereas if they are angry at first then change their attitude, chances are they had a bad hand but have now been dealt a better one. You should be wary of opponents emotions at all times.
- Counting their Chips
If someone puts all their chips in then there is a high chance that they have a good hand and think they will win. On the other hand, if someone puts very little in, they probably have a bad hand and a low chance of winning.
- Looking at Players
Nobody likes being stared at for long periods of time. One way someone could try to put you off is by doing that. They could be staring at you because they want you to think they have a good hand so you play your good cards, although they most likely have a bad hand and use this way of staring to confuse you.
That concludes our list of the most common poker “tells” and how to spot them. Remember, keep that Poker Face on and keep your hands still, you will be much harder to clock if you are worrying while playing. You also now know how to spot if other people are panicking or trying to distract you, a much-needed skill for playing poker on a professional level.