Online Poker Tells

Online Poker Tells

You’ve heard about tells: little, subconscious things people do that can give their hand away. Your opponent rubs his ear and you know he’s bluffing. He breaks into a sweat and you know he’s not. You can watch his eyes and his posture and hear the volume of his voice, all which give away more than enough to help you know when to hold and when to fold.

But what about when you play online? Suddenly you’re in a different environment. All those classic tells go out the window because you can’t see or hear your opponent. If you’re used to looking for those tells, you might suddenly feel very crippled…but if you learn the online poker tells, you’ll put yourself back in the seat of the advantaged. In this three-part series, we’ll take a look at 15 online poker tells.

Online Poker Tell #1: To Pause or Not to Pause

When playing online, poker rooms limit the amount of time you have to play your hand. Most give you 30 seconds or less. That’s not much time to watch for a tell, but it’s enough. As a general rule, if a player pauses a long time, then bets, that still means he probably has a good hand and is trying to figure out his play. If, however, he pauses for a long time and just checks, it usually means his hand is mediocre at best. Of course, you’ll still have to be careful; some players know about these tells and will deliberately do the opposite of what’s written here to throw you off.

Online Poker Tell #2: Instant Playing

Most online poker rooms have little boxes you can check for quick play. As a general rule, you shouldn’t use these! They give too much away. If a player instantly checks or bets, it usually signifies a weak hand. Again, sometimes players will do the opposite, but most fish just use check boxes without thinking.

Online Poker Tell #3: Mr. Talkie

Just as in home or casino games, some people talk when they’re nervous or when they’re feeling good. Watch the chat screen. At times, players will say things like “Finally!” or even “What’s up with these flops?!” Those are good insights into what they may be playing with…especially if they’ve said something like this before and gave themselves away. Also watch for phrases such as “This playing online stuff is cool.”—giving away the newbies.

Online Poker Tell #4: “Sorry”

One of the most frequent online tells of a distracted player is long pauses or timing out. Sometimes they’ll even apologize for it. This usually signifies that that player may be distracted. When playing online, many players are at work. Others are playing several games at once. Still others are reading message boards or surfing the net. All of those players will be distracted and not playing at their full potential…and you can take advantage of that. Again, watch the chat, too. Many times you’ll hear, “Oh man! I just lost $20 at my other table!” Good news…he’s distracted.

Online Poker Tell #5: Raising in Position

This tell, also seen offline, is a common tell. If you’re in one of the blinds and everyone folds except one of the people in late position who raise, they may just be trying to steal the pot. If you have anything at all, raise them back. This move will most often result in them folding…but if they don’t, watch out! They may really have something.

Is that it? No way! There are ten more tells to come in this three-part series. But even taking these first five tells into consideration will dramatically improve your game play and make you the shark!

Everyone has tells—things that give their hands away at the poker table, and the same is true for online poker! In part one of this series, we looked at five poker tells that are very common. In part two, we’ll look at six more that you need to be aware of, so you can own the table.