Tells at the Poker Table


Tells at the Poker Table

There are many tells at the poker table.  A “Tell” is a behavior someone does when they have a good or bad hand, everyone has them and if studied there are ways to figure them out.  Some are really evident and some are very indistinct.  Here we will cover a few of them.  One thing to note is ALL players exhibit tells of some sort.  The Pro’s are much better at concealing them than the average player.  Learning how to pick up on these tells can put more money in your Poker Bankroll.  

1. Staring you down after placing a big bet or raise and waiting for you to call

One of the biggest tells in poker is when a player places a big raise or bet and then either stares you down or looks away at something else when you are deciding to call, raise or fold.  In many cases this Tell can make you some good cash or save you some good cash.  In my experience at the poker table when a player stares you down after making the bet they are trying to make you think they have a strong hand and hoping for you to fold.  I always call or raise in these instances and I can say I have been about 90% correct that the player was bluffing.  On the other hand if the player is looking away from you and trying not to make eye contact they probably have the Nuts or at the very least have you beat.  Consider folding unless you have a pretty good hidden hand and you have a pretty good read on your opponent.  This one has made me some money at the table and I hope it does for you as well.

2. The chip look

Most players have a tendency after the hole cards are dealt to look down at their chips if they have a pretty decent hand.  They are deciding how much of their chip stack they wish to risk.  One way to identify this is to watch the table closely as cards are being dealt.  Don’t immediately look down at your cards.  Watch everyone at the table and pay attention to their reaction after they look at their hole cards.  Texas Holdem is a complex game and having a good start in the hole will generally bring a good win.  If the player looks at his cards then glances at his or her chip stack then it is likely they have a pretty good starting hand.  To dig even deeper into this (this is easier to practice if you were dealt crap and folded) watch the players at the table when the flop comes.  Don’t even glance down at your cards, watch their reactions to the flop.  You can almost instantly tell if they hit or not, the best part is they think no one is watching them because everyone is looking at the middle of the table.  The cards dealt will be there and will not change so you will have time to evaluate your hand later.  Take those vital few seconds to watch everyone else instead of the cards being turned over.  

3.  The Nervous Twitch

This one is not so obvious nor is it so universal between players.  Muscle twitching is a common symptom of elevated stress, including the stress anxiety can cause.  When people get stressed out they tend to incur anxiety.  If someone raises or bets a really large amount/over bets and you notice them twitching a little I say go at it and go at it hard.  People don’t tend to get anxiety or too stressed when they know they are going to win but they do if they think you are going to call their bluff at the table after raising a big stake of their chip count they get a little nervous.  Watch the other players closely.  If you are not a people person then poker is not for you.  

4. The Nervous Click.  

This one is different from the twitch since the twitch is an involuntary action.  This one is also semi involuntary but the brain is telling the person what to do.  It is also a memory thing.  For example, I was once playing with a guy who had a military challenge coin that protected his hole cards.  When the cards were dealt he would slide the coin over the cards.  When he had crap hands he would look down and slide the coin off the cards well before he was action.  If he had good hands/hands he was going to call he would keep the coin on the cards.  What was even better about this guy is, if he had a really good hand (for him pocket pair, small range, small table) he would flip the coin over while waiting for his turn to bet or while waiting for the flop.  I crushed him because of this.  I would just watch him and I knew his range and movements so I could tell.  If he didn’t catch on the flop he would slide the coin halfway off of the cards in anticipation of folding if someone bet or raised.  If it was checked to me and I was in position you better believe I was betting and he was folding.  If he did catch he would flip the coin and leave it dead center on the cards, easy little poker tell to pick up and if you play often enough you can pick up this same type of thing off of almost every player.

5. Actors

As a poker player at a live table you need to understand that some people know about tells and understand that you are looking for them.  These guys will act for you and get you to bite off thinking you have them beat.  Poker is a game of liars and sometimes you get beat if you aren’t the best liar.  Nothing is for sure in poker.  But one thing is for sure.  Tells are a part of all games and even the greatest poker players have them.  I once played in a tournament with a friend of mine and when we made it to the same table it was a bit scary (Thom is a great player).  He and I talked poker all the time and when all was said and done I was 8th and he was 4th.  We chatted after that tournament and he told me this, when you have a good starting hand you go after the pot like a mad man, and I agree with him.  I have since adjusted my strategy and done better in tournament play but I still prefer Cash Holdem Games.  

6. Snap Calling

I say snap calling but this goes two ways.  A player can either Snap call or take forever to make a decision to call and get into the pot.  One thing is almost for certain, if I make a big raise and get snap called (calling immediately without thinking about it) I will put that person on a really good hand.  I am not saying I will fold right away but I will watch them closely and make a decision on the rest of the poker tells I can gather from them.  A person usually snap calls because they have good cards and it is usually on the flop when they hit something.  It is a rookie thing to do because everyone at the table sees it and realizes what is going on.  On the flip side of that there are people that will take forever to make a call and keep looking at their hole cards and then back at the board.  I put these guys on a straight or flush draw depending on the board. Read the board,  look at what is out there and crush them, or not.


Understanding poker tells is an amazing way to increase your bankroll and win at poker. It is also a way for you to understand that
when you bluff you may be able to “ACT” like you have it and pull off a win with a 7 2 offsuit. I hope you are successful and poker unless you are at my table.

These are my words and my words alone. Everything in this post is something I have observed at the poker table either playing in Cash Holdem Games, Tournament Holdem games or online Holdem games. You take the risk every time you sit at the table of losing what you put down. Noting on this post is gospel or 100% and we have no liability if you choose to use one of these to your advantage or lose because you saw it here. When you put your money on the table it is on you.

If you are an avid poker player and wish to be in the World Series Of Poker one day I suggest you start reading and learning poker while not actually sitting at the table. There are many books out there but Mike Caro put out the best and he is well respected by the poker community and his peers. Check it out below along with a few others that are will help you get a better understand of Poker Tells when playing Texas Holdem.  Thank you for reading my Blog hit the like and share button below if you liked this post.


Leave a Reply