Online poker tells are probably slightly more difficult to interpret than real card room action, mainly due to the lack of human interaction. Physical characteristics which can give so much information away into the hands of players that have an understanding of what they are looking for are not available online.
However, looking for different tells when playing online can reap rewards for those who those that know how to spot them and are great in your poker strategy arsenal.
Below you’ll find some of the most common online poker tells, how to spot them and, as importantly, how to use them yourself to lead your opponents into thinking you’re showing tells enabling you to bluff your opponents.
The most obvious online poker tell is the ability to use the pre-selection buttons to either check/fold, check, call/raise any or raise any (a guide to these terms can be found in our Poker Dictionary. Some players use these buttons often and watching how these are used can gain you some insight into the playability of the players poker hand.
A quick check may show that the player has used the pre-selection buttons and will help gauge how good each players hand is. This is especially useful with the big blind. An instant check here can indicate a poor hand.
The person with the big blind has to put in an ante bet so these chips are on the table anyway so there’s no point in this player folding. A quick check may indicate a poor hand and if the flop is also followed by a quick check, it may well be worth placing a decent sized bet out. The player is not likely to call your raise.
This can be used to your advantage as well if used correctly. For example, say you’ve been dealt K, Q unsuited. You’re on the big blind and use the pre-check button to quickly put your check in hoping for a K or Q to land on the board with the flop. You’ve already given your opponents indications of a poor hand with your fake poker tell.
The board lands K, 10, Q giving you two pairs. You’re first to act and a quick check here will give your opponents that impression that you have nothing. We’ll assume your opponents bet, then the rest check. You’re now in prime position to take advantage of the situation with a strong raise.
The person who initially thought your hand was poor will more than likely match your bet and you should really have the best hand. Keep betting strongly and the player is likely to fold.
Of course, you may also spot someone posting an immediate raise. This would alert you to a strong hand and if your hand is not as strong as you would like then folding may be the best option. Again, spotting this may show you, over time, someone that raises many hands quickly is doing it as a bluff and if your pre-flop hand is fairly good then playing this player at their own game may pay dividends.
A great example of how to play online poker tells with the pre-select buttons to your advantage, both in spotting likely poor hands and boosting your own hand.
Slow or quick decisions can also alert you to a good or poor hand. If someone normally plays quickly and suddenly slows down, it may indicate that they are thinking hard about what to do. A long pause then a check with a normally strong player will indicate a poor hand. A short pause then a raise for a normally slow player may well indicate a monster hand. Take notes about how each player plays to make it easier to spot these poker tells.Players that chat a lot or try to bully players through the poker chat system may not be concentrating as much as they should. Also, someone typing or bullying a player with offensive language from a bad beat may be more prone to going on tilt and playing hands that normally should be folded.
These moments of madness are normally fairly brief so knowing what to look for and acting quickly and aggressively is the best way to play with these players. Remember though, you must have a strong hand to outplay anyone, no matter how much they are on tilt. Players playing more than one table at a time are also more likely to be losing out on the poker tells and play a much more basic strategy of poker. They don’t have the time to concentrate on how each player is performing and you can also use this to your advantage by playing them by bluffing and using artificial tells that they will hopefully pick up on and play accordingly. You can then hit them hard when you have a winning poker hand.
Try to make your own game as strong as you can and then when you can spot these online poker tells, your game should improve as you implement your new skills.