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Yes, He CAN Read your Poker Face! Your Online Internet Poker Tells
by Jonathan Gelling
Just because he can't see your poker face, doesn't mean he can't read you like a book! Many poker authors claim that physical tells are a big
part of the game of poker, and that by playing online poker over the Internet you're missing vital information on the other players. Mike Caro, for example,
would complain that you couldn't see the other players' posture, their respiratory rate, how often they blink, obvious signs of a quickening pulse or adrenaline
buildup. All of this is true: but in fact physical tells are rarely decisive even in a live game. Generally, your own card strength and your opponent's betting patterns
will guide your decision-making. It's only on the margins that such apparent physical tells will influence your betting decisions.
There are also Internet poker tells that are almost as reliable as the physical tells. When you're playing online poker, you read your opponent based
on their betting patterns -- information gleaned by watching each and every hand they play. You should notice when these patterns change in a particular hand, and
what that would mean. Here are some of the online poker tells to watch out for when playing on the Internet:
- The insta-call - When your opponent is able to call instantly, that means he doesn't have much to think about. You can see this before or after the flop.
If a player instantly calls along before the flop, that means he wants to enter the pot with some type of speculative hand. It also means that he didn't give any serious
thought to raising. What types of hand will insta-call before the flop? Typically drawing hands, like suited connectors or small pairs. Big cards (like AK) or the larger
pairs would have at least considered a raise. By insta-calling before the flop, your opponent has helped you narrow down his likely holding.
What about an insta-call on the flop? What kind of hand would an opponent not even think of folding or raising with? This is most often a draw, and sometimes a lesser
made hand (such as second or third pair). Your opponent knows that he's willing to pay the price being charged to stay in the pot, but doesn't want to risk a raising war. Note
that not all calls on the flop will be with a draw or a weak made hand, but an insta-call usually will be -- especially in a multi-way pot.
- The delayed reaction - On the other end of the spectrum, if your opponent takes an unusually long time to act on his hand, he's genuinely unsure of what to
do. Unless you've really put him in a tough spot (say, for all his chips), this usually does NOT mean he's unsure of what to do because he's holding a marginal hand. Usually the excessive
delay is because he's made an unexpectedly strong hand. He's pondering how to get maximum value out of it. An unusual delay (and it may only be for a couple of seconds) is rarely a good
sign. An unusually long delay followed by a raise is a very bad sign!
Note that you shouldn't confuse an unusually long delay with the case where an opponent is just consistently slow to act. Some players, usually the better ones,
are very deliberate about a pot they're seriously contesting. It may be strange and unusual in the Internet poker world to spend more than two seconds before acting, but some wise
players will take their time. The tell you're looking for is when a player's actions are delayed for an unusual length of time. This is when you need to be cautious!
- Offering unsolicited advice - There is no surer sign of an inexperienced, barely competent player than one who offers unsolicited advice on how to play poker. Consider:
why would an experienced, tough poker player offer GOOD advice to his opponents? Presumably his objective is to win the game - not to show off what a winning poker player he is. If you actually
have good advice to offer, keep it to yourself. You don't want to educate your less-skillful opponents!
- Playing the hand right after a bad beat - This is usually a sure sign of tilt. A strong, tight player should be selective in the cards he plays. What are the odds that a
player who just suffered a particularly bad beat really has a playable hand the very next deal? Unless he's in position or playing out of the blinds, he's probably just playing angry and on tilt.
He's liable to play foolishly aggressive, trying to win back the money he lost at any cost. Exploit this weakness.
- Showing an uncalled hand that went to the flop - Another sign of a gravely inexperienced poker player. It's almost always a mistake to provide information about how you play
a hand. An aggressive player might have a case for showing an uncalled hand that DIDN'T see a flop (to show how allegedly "tight" they are). But showing a hand that's gone to the flop when you
don't have to is just giving the other players ammunition (information) they can use against you. It's a sign of inexperience, or some sort of need for validation at the table.
- Massively overbetting or underbetting the pot - This is one of the most reliable online tells that you usually won't get in live play. A massive overbet or underbet of the pot
in LIVE play often means little more than that your opponent lost track of the pot size. When playing poker online, however, a massive overbet or underbet always tells you something about your
opponent's hand. It's different between players: sometimes an overbet is a sign of weakness (e.g. a flush or straight draw); more often, it's a sign of great strength (e.g. jamming the pot on the
river with a lock hand). You need to observe your opponent to see what this tell means by keeping notes on their play.
Whether they know it or not, every player has certain betting patterns that
will tell you all you need to know about their hand. When you see these patterns, you'll be able to read right through his poker face... even in online poker over the Internet.
This article extracted from Poker Tips that Pay: Expert Strategy Guide for Winning No Limit Texas Hold em (author Jonathan Gelling, Play to Pay Publishing).
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