Detecting non-verbal communication in poker is one of the main strategies adopted by poker experts to win games. Poker pros claim that they are able to beat their opponents based solely on reading one of their opponents’ tells or tells. They explain the guidelines for spotting tells as they apply to online play.
The world of poker is full of strategies and actions that can tip the scales in favour or against players. Movements, gestures, silences, expressions and signals that are made unconsciously are part of the set of tells used by the professionals of this card game of chance and strategy to decipher the hands of their opponents. In the world of online poker this strategy becomes more complex, as the opponents are invisible, as the masters of the sport point out. However, there are formulas that can be used to detect tells in an online game, they say. “There is a lot of information you can get from your opponents just by looking at your computer screen,” they say.
The experts explain that the best way to detect online tells is through the speed of their actions when checking, betting or raising, but also through the importance of their action. That is, whether they make big or small bets and how their actions compare to previous patterns. “The golden rule of tells is for weak opponents to pass themselves off as strong players and for strong players to pass themselves off as weak players in order to fool opponents,” say the experts. The ways to detect it are varied, as they indicate, for this they are based on the behaviour of their opponents and analyse several pauses, such as instant automatic raises, call bets quickly, analyse the amounts that are bet in game modes such as Texas Hold’em No-Limit and check if they make very weak bets or massive all-in bets, among others.
Pokertimeclub, the leading online poker application for participating in the main online clubs, agrees that the keys to the tells lie in the speed of the actions and the size of the bets, but also in developing the intuition of each player. “At the beginning it is often difficult to get it right and many mistakes are made, but by taking into account the strategies that players follow and the experience behind you, you will be able to find out better than many other players when people are lying and when they are not, which will help you become a winner in the poker world,” they specify.
The speed of betting
The speed at which bets are placed, most expert online poker players agree, is a key indicator of whether a player is bluffing or subconsciously giving away information. In the same vein, long pauses followed by a very strong raise are also notable, they point out. The experts comment that it is normal to think that the opponent is considering whether or not to play the cards because of the possibility that the opponent’s hand is far superior, even having the possibility of hitting a straight flush. “In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, this pause is used to mislead opponents into thinking they are hesitating when in fact they have a very strong hand,” they explain.
Another of the online tells easily detectable by professionals are the automatic raises or instantaneous automatic evens. In the former case, according to the pros’ advice, what is happening is that the opponent has hit the Bet/Raise All button, which may indicate a bluff, but also that the players are so confident in their hand that they are willing to bet or raise regardless of the action. It is, therefore, a technique that deserves to be considered and the option of folding or check-calling should be considered. In the latter case, when the player calls the bet quickly it is a clear sign that the opponent has a moderate or semi-weak hand. Their move is interpreted as an action to pretend that they are not afraid of the bet that has just been made, when in fact they are, so they make a quick call. They indicate that if they had a strong hand they would raise, but not call.
The amount of bets
The strategy for detecting tells in online poker is completed by analysing the amounts bet. Thus, if a player chooses to bet an odd number, such as $9.95 instead of $10.00, it is a sign that he has a neutral hand. In this case, they point out, this action is justified as a strategy to mislead opponents by pretending that the bet is higher than it really is, but beware that other players use this tactic to try to get their opponents to match the bet and beat them. These actions are carried out in no-limit online games, such as Texas Hold’em. Examples are very small bets and massive all-in bets.
In the first case, when the bets are very small, this indicates that the hand is generally weak. “An example would be a game with a $10 pot with 5 players on the flop. If he only bets $2 on the button, it is a sign that he has a weak hand, as this play does not protect his hand from being outplayed by the other bettors and he is doing it to stay in the game,” they point out. However, they specify that it is possible that the play is a strategy and the hand is the opposite, resulting in this small bet taking the pot in the end. In these cases, the player is usually in a good position.
Finally, there are massive all-in bets against the size of the pot. This type of play is usually made by aggressive players, but also by weak players, and in most cases it is a bluff. That is, a very high amount is bet compared to the pot, which may mean that the opponent is clear that he is going to win the play and expects someone to call him, but also that he is bluffing because, in these cases, it pays more to keep playing to get the maximum value from a player rather than the pot, when the pot is very small.