The biggest difference when playing poker online against other human opponents, compared to playing poker against them in a real world environment where you are sat together, is that you cannot use imperceptible signs, body language, or similar to help you get a tell on a player.
In a famous episode of the US TV Show The Office, Dwight believed Jim had a tell by coughing each time he held a good hand. While in top level poker, tells are not so obvious, they can still be a powerful weapon for players to use at the table. As Daniel Negreanu famously stated “Everything you do at the poker table conveys information.”
In online poker though, such as those you would get at sites like bet365 Poker, players are not physically sat at the table together, so you have much less information to go on for each player, but, crucially, you do have some and being able to understand these online tells can enhance your prospects of winning more hands.
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Regardless of whether you play in the UK or in the United States, or indeed anywhere else in the world, learning how a player plays online can tell you information about them and their hand is a key skill and here we will examine some online poker tells that are pretty common.
Common online poker tells and what they tell you
The Instant Check
How reliable is this tell – Relatively high, but decreases if your opponent is more able.
Likely hand strength of opponent – Low (but can be high from a talented player)
This is an obvious tell to notice. You’ll be at the table and a round of bettingwill be taking place until it comes to one player who instantly checks. This tends to let you know that the player has likely decided to use the pre-action option of Checking or Folding.
Quite often this will be used by a player who has paid the big blind, but who has nothing of value in their hand. In addition, once you move beyond the flop, other opponents can utilise this feature of the table especially if they haven’t hit a hand yet, or who may be distracted, perhaps by playing at a number of tables.
If the player is generally mid to lower ability, usually a raise from any position will induce a fold here and can result in some cheap pots for you. Be aware though that better quality players are aware of this and will simulate using the button and checking, often while holding a monster hand, to try and induce a big value bet.
All in on the River
How reliable is this tell – Very reliable
Likely hand strength of opponent – Excellent, could even be the highest possible hand. More rarely though it could be a bluff.
So the hand has progressed in relatively standard fashion and you get to the River and you make a standard bet and your opponent goes All-In. What does that tell you?
Well, in such a situation, you have two options, either your opponent has a very strong hand (maybe even the nuts), or they are bluffing. How likely is it to be either of these options?
In truth, it is far more likely to be the first. Players with strong hands want to coax money from players with lesser hands before striking and it is here that they will strike, leaving players with a lesser hand facing the option of calling and hoping they are bluffing.
In most cases, this is a strong indicator that the player has a strong hand, so folding is the wisest move. However, on occasion, a more skilled player can use this as a bluff move to get you to fold the winning hand. The only time you should never fold this move is if you hold the nuts in which case, call away and collect your winnings.
The Chat Ranter
How reliable is this tell – Very reliable in almost all cases.
Likely hand strength of opponent – Not really easy to tell, but you can tell they are losing it.
If a player you are playing with at the table loses a hand and then decides to have a rant at the winning player, or other players at the table, for not doing what they expected, or being extremely lucky to land the win, shouting or swearing in the process, then this is a great indication that the player has hit the tilt button.
Experience shows that players that have lost a big hand and then lost their heads will try and win a big hand back soon afterwards, so watch out for this player making another big move very shortly. Especially if it is against the player that beat them and caused them to tilt.
Many weaker players will hold a personal grudge against a player that beats them and will often go in against this player, even with a weaker hand and try to bluff them into folding. You can use this knowledge to pick and choose which hands to play this player with and if you are the player making them tilt, then it can be all the better for you, as they will likely be trying to take you on, while you hold a strong hand.
Players who buy in to a table with an odd amount of money
How reliable is this tell – Very reliable usually.
Likely hand strength of opponent – Not applicable, but does indicate a player that is more likely to want to win money quickly.
If a player plays at the tables and buys into the game with a very unusual amount of money, such as £58.29, then it is likely that this player has bought in using all the funds that they have available in their account.
Players like this are also often those that post their blinds early which shows you how eager they are to play and try to recoup any money they may have lost. You can use this eagerness to play and win against them.
Players like this tend to play loose and fast, they will try to double up quickly. If you hold a very strong hand or a good position in the betting, you can pit the squeeze on this player and pick up some nice wins.