Poker tells online

A poker “tell” is a sign that reveals information about a player's hand or strategy. Tells come in many different forms and can be observed online as well as offline. Of course, when playing online there is no way of noticing physical tells – such as body posture or nervous tics – but plenty of online players give off other types of tells, such as changes in betting patterns and contemplation time. Keeping an eye on how your fellow online players behave in the poker chat can also be immensely helpful.

The two tells mentioned above, changes in betting pattern and contemplate time, can often be seen in novice poker players. If a poker player habitually plays conservatively at the table and then all of a sudden makes a huge bet from an disadvantageous position after looking at his cards for just a nanosecond, more experienced players will suspect an extremely strong hand and fold. The novice player will end up winning the pot, but there will be hardly anything in it. Of course, since this is a widely known online tell you can use it to your advantage when bluffing – especially if you have already established yourself as a tight player at the table.

Interpreting tells is always tricky since they are double edged swords, online as well as offline. They can provide you with important information about an opponent, but they can also lure you into a trap and make you do mistakes that you wouldn't have made if you had focused solely on the cards. Let's assume that your opponent has checked economically up until the river, and then hesitates before making a large bet after the river card has been unveiled. Is this an inexperienced player who got exactly the card he wanted on the river and then hesitated because he was unsure about how large of a bet that would make the rest of you call? Or is it a skilled poker player that wants you to think he hit the river when he is in fact bluffing? Every potential tell needs to be interpreted against a backdrop of all the other things you know about this player. 

A tell that can only be observed when playing online is the check/fold button tell. Many players will use the check/fold button to determine their action in advance. When the actually bet, they tend to have really good cards. If you like to use the check/fold button in advance when playing online, keep in mind that your opponents might pick up on this. You need to mix up your game a bit to stay unpredictable. A great way of mixing it up is of course to use their confidence in your “tell” to your advantage to make nice bluffs.

Even if you don't like to communicate with other players in the poker chat it can be a good idea to have it open and keep an eye on how your opponents act in the chat. Some poker players have fairly clear tells in the poker chat. The constant blabber mouth might for instance go dead silent when concentrating on a great hand, while someone else will start a stream of mindless chatter when trying to slow play the nuts. Chat tells are like any other poker tells – they need to be interpreted and the more you know about the habits of a particular player the easier it will be for you to spot and correctly interpret a significant change.