Learn How to Read Your Opponents Tells!
Poker tells is an area
of poker that we all like to over-dramatize. Unlike starting-hand
selection and draw mathematics, putting players on strong or weak hands
is an entirely different practice. There are books on the subject but
it's my opinion that these books really only serve one purpose; they
get you started at watching the table for patterns and physical
glitches your opponents may leak out.
The first step in
gaining tells on opponents is to learn as much as you can about their
play. It doesn't matter the opponent's style, it only matters that you
can recognize that style. Once you identify each, you can play
accordingly. Each type can be taken advantage of and each type can hurt
you. This is your foundation you will use to build a character of your
opponent based on the rest of their actions.
Once you have an
educated opinion of what your opponents are capable of, it's easier to
decide if they are on the bluff or not. If the bet is out of character
and there is also a physical difference in movement or speech, it's
likely that opponent is up to something.
Everything is a
situation, and the more information you can compile about your current
situation the better. Why is this opponent making such a large bet? Are
they short-stacked and in danger of getting blinded out? Could they be
on tilt? Has he bullied me or other opponents out of previous pots?
Once you understand
basic betting patterns, a lot of bluffs will be exposed to you. It
usually takes only a few hands to realize if a player has some skill or
is a complete fish. Erratic bets from unskilled players are most times
bluffs. Skilled players wait for a situation where it looks like they
have hit a hand based on how the board cards played out. It's called
representing a hand. They wait for the third card to the flush, or for
the second-highest board card to pair and bluff where an opponent can
determine that they may have gotten outdrawn. When an odd bet from an
unskilled player suddenly appears on the river, their lack of betting
knowledge will be exposed once you break down the hand.
Tells rarely jump out
at you. What works best for me is to anticipate what my opponent's next
move is going to be. If I was him, and I had the nuts, I would do this.
Or, if I was him and I had nothing, I would do this. Putting yourself
in their shoes gives you a different perspective and allows you to
reason out their motives.
Once the situation is
calculated and you have formed a likely synopsis, the correct decision
is usually the most plausible possibility. In other words, trust the
information you have compiled. It's surprising how good your instincts
can be with a small amount of information. We've been sniffing out
danger since we climbed out of the trees; listen to the little voice
inside. Even when you are wrong against someone, you should remember
how that hand went down for next time.
Oreo cookies and
pulsing veins are not what you're looking for at the table. Tells
aren't as they are portrayed in the movies; it's more about watching
how an opponent acts when they have the goods and how they act when
they don't. It's up to you to watch and remember what the dude in the
ugly yellow shirt did when he had that boat an hour and a half ago.
And don't forget the
other side of the coin. Your patterns and habits are being watched and
filed, so make sure you change up your style and show the table
something different every now and then. Good luck.