11 Common Poker Tells: How to Read People in Poker

11 Common Poker Tells: How to Read People in Poker

Poker is not just a game of cards; it’s a game of people. The ability to read your opponents and make educated guesses about their hands can give you a significant edge. One of the key aspects of mastering poker is understanding the concept of “tells” – which every poker player has. While poker tells can vary greatly from one person to another, some common patterns have been identified over time. Recognizing these tells can help you create an effective strategy, making you a more formidable opponent at the table and significantly increasing your odds of winning.

What is a Tell in Poker?

A tell in poker can be any change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that provides clues to that player’s assessment of their hand. It’s important to note that tells can be both voluntary and involuntary. A tell can be something like an eye twitch whenever a player is nervous about a bet or the way the player always rubs their nose when they feel like they have a good hand.

Some players may try to fake poker tells to mislead their opponents, but careful study can help you determine which are true tells and which are bluffs. Involuntary tells are often more subtle and reliable indicators of a player’s true situation. Being able to discern the difference between real and false tells is a skill developed over time and with experience.

Most Common Poker Tells

While tells can certainly be as unique as the player, there are some common tells that are seen time and time again at the poker table. When you are just starting to learn how to read players’ tells, the best thing you can do is learn about the most common poker tells and look for those. Finer discernment will come with time.

Here are 11 of the most common poker tells to help you get started in your study:

1. Betting Hesitation

If you notice that a player shows any hesitation before making a bet, that can indicate that they are uncertain about their decision-making process. That uncertainty suggests that a player might not have a strong hand, which can give you an opening to either bluff your way to a victory or capitalize on your stronger hand. Conversely, if a player makes a quick bet, that often signifies confidence in a strong hand.

2. Handling of Chips/Cards

How a player handles their chips or cards can reveal much about their mindset. Fidgeting or frequently touching chips may signal nervousness or excitement about a good hand. Conversely, careless handling of cards might indicate disinterest or a weak hand.

3. Attentiveness To Game

A player who suddenly becomes very focused on the game or starts observing other players more intently might have a strong hand. Lack of attention or distraction usually points to a lack of investment in the hand’s outcome.

4. Table Talk / Verbal Clues

Table talk / Verbal Cue poker tells occur when some players become more talkative with a strong hand, trying to engage others to gauge their reactions. Others might become quieter, not wanting to betray any information. Paying attention to changes in a player’s verbal behavior can provide valuable clues to the strength of their hand.

5. Body Behavior

A player’s overall body language can provide significant insight into their confidence or lack thereof. For instance, leaning in might suggest interest or a strong hand, while leaning back could indicate discomfort or uncertainty. Crossed arms might be a defensive posture, signaling a weak hand.

6. Eye Contact

Noting the way a player manages eye contact is very important when analyzing your table for poker tells. Avoiding eye contact could mean they’re not confident in their hand. Conversely, staring too intently at opponents or the flop might suggest they are trying to intimidate or are overly invested in the game’s outcome.

7. Defensive Actions 

Defensive behavior, such as putting on sunglasses, pulling up a hood, or even holding one’s hands to cover the mouth or face, can indicate that a player feels vulnerable. Such actions are often subconscious attempts to shield oneself from perceived threats.

8. Double Checking Cards 

Of the most common poker tells, frequently looking back at one’s cards, especially after the community cards are dealt, can suggest a player is either trying to remember what they have or is hopeful about the potential to make a strong hand. This can sometimes indicate that a player needs specific cards to complete a drawing hand.

9. Time It Takes To Act 

How long it takes a player to make a move can be revealing. A quick decision can suggest a very strong or very weak hand, while taking too long might indicate a player is calculating odds or trying to decide on the best course of action with a marginal hand.

10. Irritation 

A player showing signs of irritation or frustration may be on tilt, which can affect their judgment and lead to more predictable or reckless behavior. When analyzing poker tells, seeing this emotion can indicate vulnerability, especially if the player has been losing or caught a bad beat.

11. Chip Movements

The manner in which a player bets or handles their chips can offer clues about their hand, as well. For instance, forcefully throwing chips into the pot might be a sign of bluffing, with the player attempting to appear confident. A careful and calculated placement of chips, however, might indicate a strong hand.

Play Poker at Blue Lake Casino

Practice and putting these observations about tells into practice is essential for honing your poker skills. There’s no better place to test your ability to read poker tells than at the table. Blue Lake Casino offers a vibrant poker room where players of all skill levels can experience the thrill of the game. Whether you’re new to poker or looking to sharpen your skills, Blue Lake Casino provides a welcoming environment to play, learn, and grow as a player. So gather your chips, keep an eye out for those tells, and join us for a game where psychology meets strategy in the fascinating world of poker.

Author: Eric Coleman