Reading poker tells from your opponents is definitely one of the main advantages you can have as a player. Most of them are clearly recognizable during live games, although there are many situations in which you can obtain precious informations also online. Mike Caro has written a great book about tells, as well as one of the most successful in the whole poker history.
Generic tells do not exist because not all players use to behave the same in certain situations. Furthermore it could happen that somebody may fake a tell giving us wrong informations. So, it’s always better to analyze our opponents in order to identify precise circumstances in which their behaviours may reveal us something.
That said, these are some of the most common tells in live poker:
1 – Look
Looking at stack, usually, means having a strong hand. When the flop comes down don’t forget to pay attantion at your opponent’s eyes: if the gaze falls over on chips there’s a big chance he might like what he has just seen and he’s probably thinking to a bet size.
2 – Timing
If a player always uses the same amount of time to take a decision, it’s almost impossible to work out on tells. However we can get something when, for example, somebody who generally acts fast starts thinking for a long time or vice versa. This is also one of the main tells you can guess both online and live.
3 – Hands and arms position
The way how hands are moving while playing a spot is among the most valuable tells you could get from your opponent. For example, when a player performs a flowing motion while putting chips on the table, this is generally a sign of strenght. Who’s bluffing or trying to hide a lousy hand shows a bit of stress and his movements are jerky.
4 – Checking cards
When a player checks his cards few times before betting, more likely he has a polarized range: either the absolute nuts or a stone cold bluff.
5 – Hand’s tremble
Usually, when somebody’s hands are shaking, it could mean he’s having a strong hand, even though in some other circumstances a tremble can be caused by a sense of nervousness coming from the risk to be caught in a bluff.
6 – Talking
One of the hugest mistakes made by amateurs is to talk while playing a hand. Also a simple smile may reveal precious informations, mainly to professionists or players with a long-standing experience.
7 – Posture
Be aware of players who straighten their back before playing a hand: this attitude indicates interest and it’s very likely they might have good cards.
8 – Bet sizing
The size of a bet is one of the very best tell you may get, both in live and online poker. Making a concrete example: if a player uses to bet a small portion of the pot with weak hands, you can be almost sure he’s having a premium one when betting strong.