Are You Using These? Are They Being Used Against You?
Let's have a closer look at online poker tells in online games like Texas Holdem. These online tells differ quite a bit from traditional ones, as we'll soon see. If you don't know about these particular poker secrets and you play online poker, then you're at a significant disadvantage vs. your competition. Chances are, experienced online players have been using these against you for quite some time without you ever even knowing it...
What is a "tell"? A traditional poker tell is any habit, behavior, or physical reaction that gives other players more information about your hand. In offline poker, a shaking, nervous hand is often an indication of a player with a strong hand. Another common poker tell would be looking down at my chips when I first see my pocket cards or the flop - a sign that I'm thinking about betting and have a good hand, so I'm seeing how many chips I have to work with qq online.
Several of the poker tells listed here are useful for both online and offline poker. However, since we lack the ability to read opponents physical expressions and reactions when playing online, the number and type online poker tells actually available to us are much more limited, and so the ones we do have available become that much more important to be aware of and recognize.
Caro's Book of Poker Tells is the classic treatise on the subject. Most of the poker tells that work in offline games rely upon physical observations of how a player reacts or behaves, so these kinds of tells don't help online since we can't observe the player physically. So when playing online, there are other telltale signals that we can watch for that give us an edge.
According to a recent survey, the top three online poker tells are:
* Quickness to respond, reported by 76% of respondents - a very fast check can indicate a weak hand, quick bets on the turn or river can often indicate a strong hand.
* Slowness to respond, reported by 73% of respondents - a pause followed by a check can often indicate weakness, while a delay followed by a raise often indicates strength.
* Automatic play, reported by 68% of respondents - a lazy approach to the auto buttons lets a player slip into a set pattern of play. Any breaks in this pattern are clear tells.
So, what can we actually use as online tells?
Using Check Boxes to Gain Information
Online poker rooms offer the use of check boxes for actions such as "Fold", "Check/Fold", "Raise", or "Raise Any", etc. While convenient for those of us who lack the patience to focus on the game for extended periods of time, the use of checkboxes can be very damaging to your overall winnings. You can determine when a player has used a check box, because their action comes immediately after the player before them acts. You can use this knowledge to your advantage if a player consistently uses checkboxes.
When a player has pre-selected "Check" or "Check/Fold", it should be obvious that he doesn't have a strong hand that he cares much about, and is likely on a draw or just waiting to fold, so you can determine the player likely has no hand or a weak hand. If their hand is immediately folded after the prior player acts, you know they are using checkboxes and can begin watching this more closely. When they don't use a checkbox, then they're taking more time to consider how to play a better hand...
Similarly, a player who uses the "Call Any" check box is likely to be on a draw and not yet made a good enough hand to bet or raise with, but is definitely not ready to fold at this point.
Poker tells are not 100% accurate, yet they often provide us with enough additional information to help us confirm what we may already suspect. Over time you can get a sense for how these players use checkboxes and begin to draw conclusions about your opponents hand strength and mode of operation as a result.
If you detect that someone is on a draw, for example, you can often bet or raise the pot a bit and push them right out, since it'd be too expensive to continue with their draw without free cards or calling minimum bets.
The fact that a player feels so strongly about a hand (good or bad) to make a decision before even seeing the how other players will bet or act is a poker tell about this person's inexperience with online play and often about their hand strength.