Many poker players lament the fact that with online poker they are no longer able to profit from poker tells; those little nervous tics and mannerisms that involuntarily reveal the strength or weakness of your opponent’s hand. But there are online poker tells as well, as this article will show.
Common poker tells include dilation of pupils, or looking away from the table (which is why so many top players wear sunglasses at the table), shaking hands, the way in which chips are put into the pot, breathing patterns (some players stop breathing when they bluff or fear that their hand is weak), sitting forward, and hundreds of others. Body language is key, as is the way in which players bet (do they announce their raise boldly, do they call grudgingly).
So what about online poker where none of these tells come into play? How can you recognize weakness or strength and build your poker bankroll as a result? The answers are pretty simple. You must rely upon betting patterns first and foremost. If a player overbets at a pot there is a good chance that he is worried about his hand. At the highest level you must always be aware of a double-bluff: he knows that you know what an overbet generally means, but he bets that way deliberately to trap you. Usually though with online poker players you can be sure that big initial bets are a sign of fear.
Watch how long it takes a player to respond. Often players hit check/fold or call any on their preselect screen. This gives away plenty of info about their hand. It shows that they are either very weak or on a draw that they will play for any amount of chips, but will play passively. A huge poker tell is when a player suddenly varies the amount of time he takes to make a decision.
This last tell is true in face-to-face games and in online poker games. A player who always acts quickly but suddenly takes up all his available time is up to something. If he waits until the last possible second and then puts in a huge re-raise chances are he is very strong. If he waits a long time before folding chances are he was weak and just wanted to save face. You now have a very good read of this player going forward.
The worst poker tells refer to a style of play. Players who will not fold pre-flop or who need to pay to see one extra card reveal the worst tell of all, that they are weak players who cannot be pushed off a hand. Wait for a premium hand and punish them to the maximum for their childish curiosity.
Online poker forces you to watch the way hands are bet rather than watching people bet those hands. It makes you a more analytical player aware of pot odds, and bet size. You cannot rely on the psychological aspects that make live poker so intriguing, but the tells are still there… you just have to know what to look for!