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The Poker Tell

A ‘tell’ in poker is any habit, behaviour or physical reaction that gives player information about another player’s hand. Nervous tics, fidgets and repetitive movements can give the game away.

Bright Eyes

Many players wear sunglasses and caps at the table, because they know that the eyes rarely lie. Be aware that players may stare at their hold cards if it’s a good hand. A quick glance means they are likely to fold. Sometimes people ask openly about an opponent’s hand knowing that people can rarely look someone straight in the eye while being dishonest.

Pretty Face

Facial expressions are important in the art of deciphering a tell. Many players look downwards at the table to avoid giving off any information. Study faces for nervousness (weak hand) or confidence (strong hand). Some people develop nervous tics when under pressure, so look for patterns.

Opposite Reactions

A strong hand prompts a weak expression and vice versa. This usually applies to novice players but more experienced players may practice this as well. Players like to be actors – if they have a monster hand will look disintegrated, saying ‘is it my turn’ or ‘I guess I will play these cards’.

Cheer Up

Anxiety shows in people when they are confronted or anticipate confrontation. Physical changes occur including flexing of muscles, pupil dilation, raised heart beat and a dry throat. In poker, when someone has a big hand. She is typically ready for confrontation and can exhibit some of these characteristics. You may see the chest expand abnormally, or novice the player’s voice become slightly higher as she talks.

Bob the Builder

The way a player stacks her ships can say a lot about the way she plays. Loose players tend to have sloppy and unorganized stacks while more conservative players keep well-organized, neat piles.

Hello Mr. Chips!

A player who glances down at her chips stack after the flop, normally suggests that she has connected with it in some way. It may be subconscious but she may be planning her attack.

Memory Lane

Some players sneak another look at their hole cards after the flop comes down to see if one of their cards is of the same suit. They would not do this if they had two suited cards already.

Grounddog Day

The most revealing tell can be when a player habitually bets in certain situations. Maybe she always checks when she has the nuts.