Bluffing or Not? – Identifying Poker Tells 101

pokerSome professional poker players say that they have no need for bluffing. These experienced card sharks have mastered the art of the “poker face,” that is, they have extreme awareness and control over their facial expressions and body movements that it’s impossible to read if their bluffing or not.

At any rate, all of us will receive both great and bad hands in the course of our playing. While professionals are experts at masking their “tells,” most average to amateur-level poker players aren’t that skillful enough to prevent their reactions to the hands they received from being read by others.

And this is why you need to understand the various types of poker tells. Chances are, you’re a beginner to amateur level player who needs a little advice on how to read your opponents’ next moves. Here are some of the common poker tells that you need to watch out for.

1. Predictable betting patterns

This is only applicable if you are familiar with the playing styles of the other players in your table. Do they limp or raise small if they have Kings, Queens, or Aces? Do they bet according to the determined strength of their hand? Oftentimes, a person’s betting pattern is the most reliable and predictable tell that you can read.

2. Hand movements

In high stakes poker with professional players, you might be hard pressed to find tells in their facial expressions and body movements. So where is their weak spot? According to researchers from Psychological Science, the movement of a professional player’s hands reveals a lot about the strength of his or her hand. In a controlled laboratory study, the researchers challenged a group of college students to rank the strength of professional poker players’ hands by showing them a clip of the players placing bets. The videos show only the players’ heads or their arms. Those who judged hand strength through the players’ arms were more accurate in gauging the strength of poker hands. Players slide chips across the table more gracefully when they know that their hand is good; their arm movements are slow, jerky, or hesitant when the hand is weak.

3. Eye movements

Does your opponent have a habit of staring you down? While usually taken as a sign of aggression or strength, a staring down often means that his or her cards aren’t that great and s/he just wants to intimidate you into submission.
After the flop, look around the table and take note of the people who peek at their cards. More often than not, they are rechecking their hands to see if they have an opportunity to make it into a straight draw or a flush. Those who gaze for a long time at the pot are likely to be calculating odds in their heads, figuring out their chances of getting the cards that they need.

4. Sighing and shrugging

Sighing and shrugging, what we often take as signs of disinterest, are just mere ruses in the world of poker. The player might just be overacting and distracting other players


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