Online Poker Tells

Guide to internet

Tells are the physical or verbal tics or clues that opponents give off to reveal the strength (or weakness) of their hand.

In live poker in your local cardroom or casino, it's possible to pick up tells from your opponents as you're sitting across the table from them. A player who's picked up pocket aces may sit up straight and cross their arms, or a player who's bluffing may look away, unable to look you in the eye when you size up a bet.

Meanwhile, a player wanting to induce a call from you may start chatting about how bad his hand is.

With online poker, however, those verbal and visual clues can't be gleaned; you're at the mercy of a computer screen and (in some cases) the chatbox.

Why Spotting Online Tells is Important

  • Get a read on opponents when you can't see their face
  • Pull off bluffs against savvy opponents
  • Earn more cash in the long run

So, how can you get information from an opponent just by their actions at an online table? Let's take a look at some of the common tells that players give off on the virtual felt.

1 - The 'Time Bank'
Internet tells - Time Bank

Good online players will be multi-tabling, perhaps playing half a dozen tables at the same time. If you spot that a reasonably solid opponent is consistently running the clock down, they may have their eye off the ball.

Yes, it could be merely down to a dodgy Internet connection, but if they're losing concentration that means they're not paying full attention to what's going on. That's when you can take advantage.

Top Tip: While we're on the subject of time, consider making a really fast bet to scare your opponents. This shows you're confident with your hand and want to intimidate another player.

2 - The Chatbox Warrior

Verbal tells are a godsend in live poker situations. However, that doesn't mean you can't use your opponents' chat in online games.

Some players do like to use the chatbox, especially in big pots where there's a lot at stake. If they hold a good hand, they might take to the chatbox to put you off calling. Even if it's not of the "I wouldn't call if I were you," type comments, he might just start typing gibberish into the box to distract you from your thought processes.

Of course, if you manage to talk an opponent out of a big hand, remember to show your cards at showdown and toss in a quick 'wp' ('Well Played') comment to put him on tilt.

Top Tip: Switch off the 'Dealer chat' and just keep the player chat open. This way, you won't lose track of anything your opponents are saying.

3 - The Auto-Check

To speed things along, especially when you're multi-tabling online, you can automatically select your betting options (Check/Fold/Call) before the post-flop action gets round to you.

If the action comes to a player and he checks in an instant, this is a good sign he's missed his flop and isn't interested in the hand anymore.

On the flipside, an insta-raise gives away the opposite: that an opponent has you crushed and he can't wait to get that money in.

Top Tip: Avoid using the auto-check box yourself; good opponents will soon spot it and take advantage.

4 - The Long, Long Wait
Internet tells - The Long Wait

Although the Time Bank can be a sign that a player isn't fully involved in the hand, other players will run down the clock in order to give off the illusion that they either have a great hand or a terrible one.

Let's say you re-raise on a board of K-A-8 with pocket jacks to represent a monster. Your opponent, holding pocket aces for a set, may run the clock to make out he's being put to a tough decision.

Suddenly, with the clock almost gone, he raises. It's a sure sign of a strong hand, so beware.

Conversely, a player who waits a long time then merely checks is doing the opposite; giving off the impression he is deliberating a raise with a big hand when in fact he's got nothing. His deliberation can be seen as a sign he may be contemplating a raise but opts for a sneaky check instead.

Top Tip: Mix things up. If you think your opponents are sussing out your betting patterns, try using the clock when both weak and strong to throw them off the scent.

5 - The Constant 3-Bettor

Many online players are playing (or should be playing, if they want to improve their ROI) hundreds of games a week, and might even be multi-tabling while you're facing them.

If they're a regular, solid grinder - particularly in low--mid stakes cash games - their betting patterns will be pretty standard: 3x BB bets pre-flop and lots of continuation bets when in position.

Because these moves work well at the lower stakes against inexperienced players, you can pick off the grinders with some well timed re-raises post-flop to see how well your opponents cope.

Top Tip: Use your position to re-raise opponents who make regular, standard bets a large percentage of the time.