An important ingredient to becoming a profitable poker player during is being able to read the other players and to notice any number of “tells” that may indicate whether or not your opponents may have a strong hand or are bluffing based on certain mannerisms and body language shown at the table. This element of the game is somewhat limited playing on the Internet because you can’t see the other players. However, there are a number of online poker tells that your opponents may inadvertently display that can allow you to make proper or better decisions whilst playing online.
The online tells are not as reliable as those found in opponents playing poker in the live arena, but they may be useful on occasion. The first two have to do with stalling. Whether your opponents wait a considerable length of time before checking, or stalling before making a bet or raising, often gives away the strength of their hand. A long wait prior to a check often can be construed as a weak hand because your table rival may like you to believe that he is thinking about raising, when he usually won’t be holding a strong hand at all. If you’re in good position in such a circumstance, making a bet may be all you need to win the pot.
Stalling before making a bet or raising is many times the opposite of the stall and check tell. Your opponent probably has a strong hand and is trying to induce you into thinking that his bet or raise is a bluff. Players holding strong hands will often savor the fact that its highly likely that the pot will soon be added to their stack. For instance, sitting on pocket Queens when another Queen arrives on the flop. These are the hands that poker players dream about and usually don’t bet very quickly to try to make you think that they have a weak hand.
Another online tell is the instantaneous check or raise. Internet poker sites use software that permits players to decide what they will do prior to the time in which they must act. Fold, check or bet boxes may be selected while the action is in front of other players and well before your turn to act is upon you. Unless you are absolutely certain that you will be folding a non-playable hand, you shouldn’t be using the insta-betting buttons because this is the most reliable tell of online poker. A check made by your opponent using the instant betting option shows weakness and the desire to fold whenever somebody makes a bet. Although not used as often as the instant check, instant betting or raising prior to your turn to act regardless of the actions of players before you gives away the strength of your hand.
While playing online poker, players have the entire world-wide-web at their fingertips and will sometimes be performing other online tasks in addition to trying to win at poker. Answering emails, chatting in chat rooms or on Skype, browsing the web, and playing multiple poker tables are some of the activities undertaken by players that may take their attention away from any one particular game. This often results in these multi-tasking players taking much too long when its their turn to act and periodically timing out. This divided attention among many web activities typically means that the unfocused player will be playing the most basic style of poker – raising with good hands and checking and folding on bad ones. This tell can be advantageous in your decision-making process when you notice that a player may not be fully devoted to the game at your table.
The previous four tells all have one thread in common – the time a player takes to act. Since the other players cannot be seen, this is sometimes all you can rely on in online poker. The next tell is not timing-related. It’s somewhat of a strategical move to lessen the money being bet in an attempt to see another card cheaply. It happens in a heads-up situation when the opponent before you checks post-flop, you bet from your late position, and your bet is called. Following the turn, your table rival acting first makes a small bet. This is typically referred to as a blocking bet in an attempt to keep you from making a big bet. The player trying to block normally has a drawing hand or a small to mid-level pair. You should raise in such scenarios to give the blocking player incorrect pot odds to call your raise and look at a cheap river card. Small bets are typically weak bets and should usually not garner your respect. Blocking bets are also attempted in live games, but seem much more prevalent in online play, perhaps because players cannot be seen.
Our final online poker tell has to do with players who are expressing their emotions via the chat box. There are some players who just cannot stop themselves from whining about their bad luck and how the cards never seem to go their way. They typically go on and on about how the site must be rigged because they are good players and they can’t fathom losing in such a fashion. The whiner is normally a tilting, losing player who should be exploited whenever possible. If they think they will lose and have no hope and continue to rant about it, there is a good bet that they will do just that. Use their tilting and losing to your advantage accordingly. Players in that frame of mind are not making the best poker decisions.
Those are some of the most apparent and common poker tells while playing online. You can sometimes use these tells to your advantage when faced with a crucial decision against players exhibiting such telling behavior. Remember though, that you can’t see other players online and other factors may be involved in why their actions may be taking an inordinate amount of time. Use the above-mentioned tells on occasion when you can. Online poker tells are particularly powerful when combined with what you know about a player, for example with info from your poker tracking software. If the tracking software highlights a player as a fish over many hands, it’s more likely their tells are accurate and not being manipulated than if the player is a solid loose aggressive or tight aggressive player.