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8 Powerful Poker Tells to Unlock Your Opponents

These are the top Tells I wish I had known sooner.


I find Poker fascinating because this game has it all; strategies clash, minds meet, and fortunes can be won or lost. It's not all about luck or holding the best hand. Pros know how to read their rivals, seeing through smiles and nervous fidgets. It's the art of reading your opponents that comes into play.

Poker tells are involuntary physical or verbal cues that reveal a player's hand strength. At the table, silence speaks volumes. A flicker of emotion, a tremor in the hand - these cracks in their composure are your tells. By reading this silent language, you gain the edge. Understanding these eight powerful tells can turn you into an expert detective at the table.

1. Eyeing Up - The Eye Contact Tell

Your first tell is the eye contact. It is one of the most classic tells involving players locking eyes with you, unwavering and confident, and might be trying to intimidate strength or even mask a weak hand. 

Conversely, those who shy away from eye contact could be nervous, concealing a monster hand they're hoping you won't suspect. However, this tell could be better. 

Experienced players use this non-verbal communication to their advantage. A pro might deliberately avoid eye contact to make you think they're strong when they're bluffing.


2. The Shaking Hands 

Another physical sign of poker tells is shaking hands, which of course, might mean nervousness. You should watch out for shaky hands, especially when placing bets. 

This often indicates a strong hand, the player's anxiety stems from the prospect of winning a big pot; but be careful. Some people naturally have shaky hands. Look for changes in behavior and not isolated incidents.

Imagine a player who usually keeps their hands steady suddenly develops a tremor when facing a large bet. This may indicate nervousness about a strong hand they are reluctant to commit.


3. Wagering Patterns 

Money talks too. If you notice that your opponent tends to adjust their bets such as placing small bets with strong hands and big when bluffing is giving away their strategy. Look for variations from their usual patterns – a sudden increase in bet size might indicate a bluff, while a cautious bet from a big bettor could signal a strong holding.


4. The Chitchat Player 

A sudden surge in chattiness can be revealing. Talkative players with strong hands might be trying to appear relaxed and confident. A player who clams up after being chatty could be bluffing or hiding a weak hand. Be mindful that some players use table talk strategically to mislead you.


5. Chip-Handling Tell

How you handle your chips also reveals a lot about your confidence level. If you fumble with or clutch your chips tightly, it might suggest uncertainty about your hand. 

A smooth and confident chip handling usually signifies comfort and possibly a strong hand. Pay attention to changes in how you handle your chips, as this can indicate shifts in confidence based on your cards.


6. The Body Language 

This is what I like best among the tells - body language. It encompasses posture, involuntary gestures, and fidgeting. These actions can often betray a player's emotional state. Touching the face, neck, or hair can signal stress or nervousness, which might occur when bluffing or holding a weak hand.

Players who cross their arms or lean away from the table might be feeling defensive, indicating a weak hand they're trying to protect.


7. Quick Calls- The Timing Tell

And guess what, the time you take to decide may reveal a lot. Snap decisions usually mean you have a strong hand or a clear plan. 

If you take a long time to act, it might show you're unsure about your hand strength or considering a bluff. It's important to observe your typical decision time and note any deviations. If you suddenly take much longer than usual, it could mean you're in a tough spot, possibly bluffing a strong hand.


8. The Posture Tell

Your posture at the poker table can say a lot about your confidence. When you sit up straight or lean forward, it often shows you're feeling good about your hand. On the other hand, if you're slouching or leaning back, it might mean you're more relaxed or not feeling as confident. Pay attention to sudden changes in posture, too. 

If you suddenly straighten up, it could mean you've just hit a great hand. Conversely, if you start to slouch, you might be acknowledging that your hand is weak.


Online Poker Tells

Just like in traditional poker, online poker has its own set of cues that can give you insights into your opponents' strategies and hand strengths. Here are some common online poker tells you should watch for:

  • Stack size - The size of a player's stack can indicate their playing style and confidence.
  • Quick Bets or Raises- Rapid actions often suggest a strong hand or a bluff.
  • Chat Box Tells- Pay attention to what players say in the chat box, as it can reveal their emotions or strategies.
  • Auto-Check and Auto-Fold Tells- Using these options might indicate a weak hand or a lack of interest in the current round.
  • Betting on the Flop vs. Turn and River- Notice differences in betting patterns at different stages of the game.
  • Frequent Use of the "All-In" Button- Players who go all-in frequently might be trying to intimidate others or capitalize on strong hands.

Incorporating Tells for Accuracy

Poker tells can be deceptive because savvy players often fake them to confuse you. In poker, emotional and social factors influence decisions, not just bluffs. To read your opponents strategically, it's crucial to observe a combination of tells, betting patterns, and overall behavior at the table.

In online poker, reading tells requires a keen eye for digital patterns and behaviors. As AI continues to advance, it reshapes the future of poker by analyzing hand histories, betting patterns, and other data. Players need to be aware of AI-assisted opponents and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Mastering both physical and digital tells will make you a more versatile and formidable poker player. By combining sharp observation with strategic thinking, you can better understand your opponents and increase your chances of success, whether you're sitting across the table or playing from behind a screen. Hone your skills by participating in these legal and legit casinos

About the author

Angel Cabal

Ex-soccer player for Real Oviedo Football Club and long-time casino enthusiast with a profound understanding of the iGaming industry. I'm constantly on the lookout for the latest bonuses, leveraging my 10+ years of expertise to maximize your gambling returns.