Online and live poker tells are a bit different and for obvious reasons, you have much more to consider while playing live because you see your opponent, what he does, how he reacts and much more. But even if you are playing online, building the basic understanding of poker tells can help you make the right decisions. So let us cover it firstly.
Online poker tells
As we said, you have way less option to read your opponent online compared to live games. However, some of the ways are very powerful and can give you a lot of information. Most importantly an accurate one.
Bet sizing poker tells
It is by far the most important, yet, probably the hardest thing to understand and master. You can even find advanced courses developed on the subject and learning these concepts can help you build an optimal bet sizing strategy. Sadly, there is no rule, which could be applied in every situation and give you guaranteed results. However, a few things stand out.
There are many spots in which your opponent would never play value hand with a particular sizing. For example, if your opponent decides to overbet shove huge on dry boards, he is unlikely to be bluffing. Probably most players understand that in this case, your range is polarized, and you have either a very weak or a very strong hand. If you have a poor holding, you will be letting it go no matter how much he bets.
Therefore, if his goal is to make you fold, he will never risk his entire stack to do that. However, if you have a strong hand, you are likely to bluff catch him, and he could be trying to get maximum value by betting big.
So if your opponent bets huge on a dry board, he is more likely to have made hand than a bluff, and you should consider folding unless you can beat some of his value hands, which he could play this way.
The second thing, which you want to remember is that people are unlikely to bluff with a tiny sizing. Most of the time, when you are facing a small bet, it will be for value. Therefore, if you do not have anything, folding is a reasonable option.
However, you need to take into consideration that some good regulars use these sizings as a bluff, just because they know you will not think they are. Well, it is tough to read professional players and let us not move in these leveling games.
So you should be concentrating on breaking down tough opponent’s ranges of cards and playing against it while leaving poker tells for weaker opponents.
In some rare cases, players can play contrary to this, so it is better to get more info on your opponent before judging your decisions just on bet sizing. That being said, it is by far the most important concept, which you can learn to identify the strength of your opponents hand.
Timing poker tells
Timing is another crucial part of the information, which you can use to your advantage. Many players take this lightly and leave a lot of valuable information on the table.
Just think about your play in general before going even deeper. Do you act at once when you have a strong hand? Unlikely, so most of your opponents will not do that as well. Therefore, one of the classic poker tells is that if your opponent acts fast, he likely has a weak hand or a draw.
In this case, he does not need to spend any time considering his options because he is not going to fold his draw, and he is not going to raise a weak holding as well. Therefore, his only option is to call and hope to improve. Subconsciously he makes that decision in a blink of an eye, and that translates into quick action on the table.
The contrary could be said about acting slow. As we discussed before, your opponent will be playing medium-strength hands faster, so when he takes a lot of time to make a decision, he likely has a fragile hand or well above an average one.
One thing that I have noticed repeatedly is that when your opponent thinks for an extended period and then checks, he is likely to fold to any aggression. Therefore, you should often be betting as a bluff when you see this.
Considering this, along with all other factors such as position, action before the flop, community cards, and bet sizing can give you an excellent understanding where your opponent stands, and you can make an accurate decision based on all of it. On top of that, for online players there is a lot of help from different poker tools, so make sure to use it to boost your advantage.
Stack size, auto rebuy, and posting blinds OOP
A sure way to identify a recreational player in the cash games is to notice his behavior and stack size.
Of course, it will not indicate the strength of your opponent's hand, but knowing who is a regular and recreational player will give you a significant advantage early on because you could be playing entirely differently against them.
So when you see someone at the cash game table holding some stupid amount like 86.74 big blinds instead of 100 BB when it is allowed, you can be confident that you are facing a recreational player.
Alternatively, he could be a professional short stacker as well. But you will be able to identify which one is true very quickly.
Short stackers play very tight and aggressive, while recreational players tend to choose a more passive strategy.
If you see him limping or playing many hands, you can confirm that this guy is likely to be a recreational player. By the way, limping is another habit of weaker players, so when you see it, play accordingly.
In addition to this, when a player does not have an auto rebuy option marked where it is possible, he is almost surely a recreational player as well. Most good regulars want to play with a full-stack to maximize their chance of winning big when they have a hand thus be turning auto rebuy on to top up their stack if they lose some money.
Same goes when you see someone posting big blind out of his turn. You probably will never find a regular doing it so this could be the most accurate online poker tell helping to identify the weaker players in your games.
Live poker tells
Obviously, you cannot rely just on poker tells and need to know how to build a winning cash games or poker tournament strategy if you are playing those. However, you can surely get a lot of additional information from live poker tells and confirm or deny your decision based on that. To be honest, these insights play a big roll in live games, so better know what it means. To get that extra edge you can read more poker tips here, and for poker tells let us continue with a list.
Bet sizing and timing tells
You can apply most of the same bet sizing rules as for online games, so I will not repeat everything again. However, one noticeable difference comes with a fast action. In live games, people are much more likely to act quickly with a strong hand. Especially when they are the aggressor and are dictating the action.
When you find yourself facing a snap shove on the river, you will probably see a reasonably powerful hand. Most of the time, your opponent already decided to bet no matter which card comes even before seeing it. Therefore, he is unlikely to be bluffing here.
It is probably one of the best-known live poker tells, so I cannot leave it aside.
While having a strong hand, people tend to act, as they do not.
Therefore, when you see someone acting with a lot of power, splashing chips, and indicating a strong hand in any other way, they are very likely not to have it. In this case, you should be looking to call down even without a premium holding.