View Full Version : Online Poker Tells

02-18-2005, 08:48 PM
You’ve heard about tells, little, subconscious things people do that can give their hand away. Your opponent rubs his ear and you know he’s bluffing. He breaks into a sweat and you know he’s not. You can watch his eyes and his posture and hear the volume of his voice, all which give away more than enough to help you know when to hold and when to fold.

But what about when you play online? Suddenly you’re in a different environment. All those classic tells go out the window because you can’t see or hear your opponent. If you’re used to looking for those tells, you might suddenly feel very crippled…but if you learn the online poker tells, you’ll put yourself back in the seat of the advantaged.

Online Tell #1: To Pause or Not to Pause
When playing online, poker rooms limit the amount of time you have to play your hand. Most give you 30 seconds or less. That’s not much time to watch for a tell, but it’s enough. As a general rule, if a player pauses a long time, then bets, that still means he probably has a good hand and is trying to figure out his play. If, however, he pauses for a long time and just checks, it usually means his hand is mediocre at best. Of course, you’ll still have to be careful; some players know about these tells and will deliberately do the opposite of what’s written here to throw you off.

Online Tell #2: Instant Playing
Most online poker rooms have little boxes you can check for quick play. As a general rule, you shouldn’t use these! They give too much away. If a player instantly checks or bets, it usually signifies a weak hand. Again, sometimes players will do the opposite, but most fish just use check boxes without thinking.

Online Tell #3: Mr. Talkie
Just as in home or casino games, some people talk when they’re nervous or when they’re feeling good. Watch the chat screen. At times, players will say things like “Finally!” or even “What’s up with these flops?!” Those are good insights into what they may be playing with…especially if they’ve said something like this before and gave themselves away. Also watch for phrases such as “This playing online stuff is cool.”—giving away the newbies.

Online Tell #4: “Sorry”
One of the most frequent online tells of a distracted player is long pauses or timing out. Sometimes they’ll even apologize for it. This usually signifies that that player may be distracted. When playing online, many players are at work. Others are playing several games at once. Still others are reading message boards or surfing the net. All of those players will be distracted and not playing at their full potential…and you can take advantage of that. Again, watch the chat, too. Many times you’ll hear, “Oh man! I just lost $20 at my other table!” Good news…he’s distracted.

Online Tell #5: Raising in Position
This tell, also seen offline, is a common tell. If you’re in one of the blinds and everyone folds except one of the people in late position who raise, they may just be trying to steal the pot. If you have anything at all, raise them back. This move will most often result in them folding…but if they don’t, watch out! They may really have something.

Is that it? No way! There are ten more tells to come in this three-part series. But even taking these first five tells into consideration will dramatically improve your game play and make you the shark!

This topic is by NUTGRABBER from the old forums, but -- a very valuable topic and deserves a second look and commentary.

02-18-2005, 11:06 PM
I'd say with more than 5 people in the pot its near impossible to tell much anything from players. When the game becomes short handed then it becomes much easier to tell distinct actions that the player might make or not make to give away there hand.

Some people wait 20seconds and check their flush others, wait 20 seconds and bet their flush. You must know the persons betting actions reasonably well also.

I would go as far to suggest using poker software such as poker office helps you determine and keep track of these actions. Even better, Poker Edge gives you an excellent idea of how they make betting action. But they keep stats on you that is the downfall.

02-27-2005, 06:18 AM
I've noticed a quick check after hitting trips followed by a thought about call (about 5 seconds). This only works on oppononents who act quickly most of the time.

03-04-2005, 02:32 PM
as far as acting quickly. a lot of the time I make my move really quickly, regardless of what is going on. so for some people its really hard to judge.
for example if i take my time, im either way behind in the hand and have already lost/ miracle to win. or im gonna raise.

so reading the other players online takes a lot more time (in my opinion), at least the good ones.

03-05-2005, 05:49 AM
Yeah, I have a bad habit of using the instant check boxes when its not my turn. I have to try to stop myself from using them. Thanks for the tip.

03-09-2005, 12:10 AM
the only online poker tells i think you can really rely on are betting patterns.

03-17-2005, 06:48 PM
DISCLAIMER: The author of this comment is new to poker, is broke (not from losing at poker, just in general), and is not very good at the game.

Egthareal claims, " As a general rule, if a player pauses a long time, then bets, that still means he probably has a good hand and is trying to figure out his play. "

I dont know about this, egthareal. It seems to me that players who wait a medium-long amount of time (compared to their usual pauses, not yours or mine) usually are on a draw. Sometimes, they will have top pair, no kicker or something. In any event, they are like the players you describe. They are not sure what they are going to do. However, players who really do wait a long time, usually have a very strong hand and are trying to give the impression of weakness.

Agree? Disagree?

03-20-2005, 04:19 AM
Again, speaking in general terms, I think it has a lot to do with the game you are at. NL is going to be different than limit as deception is a much bigger factor in NL. The general rule seems to be that showing weakness means you are strong and acting strong means you are weak. The other generality is that action on later streets is often a more reliable indicator of hand strength then a bet on the flop or preflop.

I tend not to rely on these general tells too much. If I don't have a read on a player and its a marginal situation, I fall back on pot odds and game theory. There is a lot more deception online. These tells are good to keep in mind and if you spot a player who falls in line perfectly with one or more of these tells, by all means use them to your advantage. Just don't get married to these concepts and apply them all the time.

03-28-2005, 09:42 PM
During the last 4 months I have played at least 500 hours on the net. Especially tell#1 I have experienced very often. Actually, first of all I have had the idea, if I take a lot of time before I bet, others might think that I am bluffing. Later I observed the hands of those who did the same and, according to my observation, in 90% of the cases it's a top hand.

03-31-2005, 09:23 AM
In response to JUSTBREWIT:

Technically this was not my post, as seen in the original post, " This topic is by NUTGRABBER from the old forums, but -- a very valuable topic and deserves a second look and commentary."

However, it was a topic that I thought had significant value and was worth a second glance your thinking is on the right path. But, you would be suprised how often these tells are correct.

Therefore I would tend to agree with the majority of the post. Just as all things in life you must take it for what its worth and adapt it to your own way of play.


04-07-2005, 01:19 AM
ONe thing I have noticed about the check box is that if someone is good and they hit a set they will have it clicked. So next time i suggest not throwing out too big of a bet, for if they call then they have something really good.

04-07-2005, 01:55 AM
If someone checks really fast I have found they have a real nice hand and are hoping to portray weakness to induce bets

04-17-2005, 05:39 PM
well, I give up on trying to figure it out at the moment!!! I tried this last night and failed miserably!!! UGH!!! I'm going to back to playing my hands and stop trying to figure out the other players. I am interested in these poker software tools, though. Has anyone got any comments about those?

04-19-2005, 03:18 PM
very nice thread..thank you.

04-19-2005, 05:14 PM
great post. i have to agree with master 80......

pl. betting patterns are the most reliable

tell or indicator of what op is doing.

i can not read the chat for tells now/yet.

it is just too distracting to my game.

later maybe 6mo. to a yr. that may

be a goal.


04-19-2005, 10:45 PM
yeah quick checking with a good hand works well online especially if some one is betting aginst you.most of the time they are trying to scare you off

04-21-2005, 06:22 PM
A tell that I notice alot with online poker is when A player try's to steal the pot and you raise them and they only call. And then the turn card comes and they check, Thats a really easy way to notice weakness, only if you raise there bet after the flop.

other wise you could be getting slow played.

04-21-2005, 06:46 PM
I have still found no consistancy in determining online tells.. GO figure! From my experience, you can just never tell. Sometimes I guess right, sometimes wrong.

04-21-2005, 10:44 PM
i think its just easier to watch everyplayer closely and see every called hand that has to be showed. that way u know who the pushy people are when they show a mid pair or garbage and they bet the whole time and get called on the river. like wise, if u never see a persons hand for a long time and then finally seeone of his winning hand that is or close to the nuts, then u know he is a tight player and u can use that to your advantage to push him out of a lot of hands.

04-22-2005, 12:31 AM
Reading tells online is impossible...forget it.

12-03-2005, 08:31 AM
I do the same thing every time. I sing a certain chorus of a song before I make any move. It doesn't matter if I am holding 72 off or if I am holding the nuts. I use the same play each and every time. I have tried different methods, but this one seems to work the best for me.

12-17-2005, 12:06 PM
It is harder to pick up on online tells if you are just a casual player becuase you typically will not be playing with the same group of people for very long so it is hard to take notes on their play.

Also, a lot of times I suspect people are just goofing off or playing drunk becuase they will reraise you twice with garbage when you are holding the nuts. What kind of notes do you put down for that (player x gives his money away)

A lot of online player try to get tricky on the flop and preflop but will back down if you play back at them. If you find you are at a table with a tricky player who you think is more skillful than you, there is no shame in leaving the table.

One thing a lot of players do is let ego get in the way of making money which is not good poker strategy. Prey on the fish, let the sharks fight amoungst themselves.

05-22-2007, 03:21 AM
I think honestly, a lot of the tells for online are true. But then again, there are millions of ppl with so many different types of play, especially online, that the best bet is to just play carefully and tight online, rather than looking for tells and being aggressive, just play your hand i'd say.

I know that:
-taking too long and checking is a weakness, but what about this?

you make a bet, and the opponent in position calls you right away. Is this a weakness or strength??

10-11-2011, 06:30 PM
thanks... guys...