Tip 48

Just as you can learn about your opponents by observing how to play their hands, much can also be ascertained by watching their actions and body language.  Many of your opponents tend to limit the same “signals” time and again, which you can use to deduce the strength of their hand.  These signals are commonly called tells in poker terminology.  Careful observation of your opponents can identify valuable tells, which will make or save you a significant amount of money over time.

  Your many opponents exhibit a wide assortment of tells.  There are, however, a few common ones to be on the lookout for.  Once you are accustomed to spotting these tells, you will also become more adept at finding  others.  Some typical tells and their likely meanings follow.

Folding Out of Turn

  If you look to your left before you act, you often notice some of your opponents preparing to fold their hands.  They may not literally fold out of turn, but one glance at them alerts you that they are not going to play.  This tell is helpful because it effectively alters your position.  For example, one reason why you must pass some decent hands from middle position is that you don’t know yet what your opponents behind you are going to do.  However, if it is obvious that they are going to fold, you have just “inherited” the button.  So, you can now play hands appropriate to that position.

Placing Chips on Their Cards

  When an opponent places a chip on his cards, it usually means that he is going to play his hand.  If you look to your left hand observe this, it may help you avoid getting involved with a weaker hand.  Be careful interpreting this tell, however.  Some players always place a chip on their cards before the action has reached them.  Your job is to ascertain which players do this only when they are going to play.

Picking Up Chips Out of Turn

  Some players like to have their chips ready for action when it’s their turn.  They count out the amount of the bet, or even the size of a raise.  Again, by looking to your left, you may be able to accurately predict what each of your opponents is going to do.  This can help you avoid making marginal calls, especially if you see that the pot is going to be raised behind you.  Be aware of the reverse of this tell.  Some players habitually pick up chips when they intend to fold for any bet, perhaps in an attempt to discourage those bets.

Talking About Their Hands

  Some players like to talk about their hands, or offer friendly advice to their opponents in the midst of a pot.  What you want to know is, do they speak the truth?  Should you believe them?  In most cases, talkers follow a consistent pattern.  Some players consistently lie, while others tell the truth in an attempt at reverse psychology.  Learning to discern who falls into which category will make you some money.

Academy Award Performances

  There is a good reason why most poker players don’t get major roles in Hollywood.  If you don’t know what that is, watch that is, watch them as they try to convince you to call, fold, raise, or whatever it is that they want you to do.  Some players act strong when they are weak, reaching for their  chips as they see you preparing to bet.  Others appear disinterested in the pot until the action gets to them, at which time they ease in a half-hearted raise (while holding the nuts).  By observing the table when you are not involved in a hand, you learn to identify the actors.  Then, when you do play a pot with them, you are able to decipher their acts.

When to Look for Tells

  The best time to learn to identify and use tells is not when you are actually involved in a hand.  Rather, this is one more part of your poker education that can be enhanced when you have folded and are waiting for the next hand to start.  The vast majority of your opponents use this time to chat, watch television, or schmooze with the cocktail waitresses.  If you use this time wisely, you will be miles ahead of the other players, even if it costs you a date or two with a waitress