Online Poker Tells


Relative to live poker, there are far fewer online poker tells that you can pick up on to find out whether or not your opponent is bluffing, especially in online Texas Holdem. This is for the obvious reason that you are unable to physically see who you are playing against.

Nevertheless, this can be positive for your game because you can focus on the tactical side of your game and learn how to play different situations with improved skill. However, there are still a number of online poker tells that you can look out for that can give away the strength of your opponent's hand.

Online tells are never going to be as solid as live tells, but they can still prove to be a little handy from time to time. However, I wouldn't recommend solely relying on them when making tough decisions.

Top online poker tells.

  • Long wait and check.
  • Long wait and bet/raise.
  • Check/call and then bet.
  • Instant bet/check.
  • Player timing out.

Long wait and check.

This shows that your opponent is weak, because he wants to make you think that he is considering to make a move with his hand when really he wont be holding much at all. Consider raising when in position, even if you don’t have much of a hand yourself.

Long wait and bet/raise.

This is the opposite of what was mentioned above. This action shows strength, as your opponent wants to make you think they are deliberating a check because they have a weak hand, but in actual fact they are holding a strong hand.

If you think about it, if you are holding a monster you will not want to bet quickly and show confidence in your bet, which may scare your opponents out of the pot. So be prepared to fold a decent hand in this situation.

Check/call flop, bet small on turn.

You are in position. Your opponent checks the flop and you bet. Your opponent calls your bet, and then bets out a relatively small amount when the turn comes.

In this situation you can comfortably put your opponent on a certain basket of hands; a draw or a mediocre hand like middle pair.

Never give too much respect to a small bet. A weak bet is a weak bet, so treat it like one.

What your opponent is trying to do is stop you making a large bet on the turn that he won't like to call (because they may have a weak hand or a draw), and so is attempting to show a little strength by betting first and not having to call a bet from you. This is sometimes referred to as a 'stop bet' or a blocking bet, because your opponent is trying to stop you from putting in that big bet. So try re-raising in these situations to prevent them from improving their hand.

Instant bet/check.

Almost every site will have action tabs that you can select before the action gets to you. This means that you will act instantaneously when it is your turn. It is not a wise idea to use these buttons for the following reasons:

  • When you see someone insta-check, it shows great weakness because they are so disinterested with the hand that they decide to check before the action gets to them.
  • Therefore insta-betting/raising shows strength, as your opponent is happy to put more money into the pot before seeing what other players do and before the action reaches him or her.

Player timing out.

Because of how easy it is to play poker online (in ease of use terms), many players will not have their full attention on the game. They may be involved in other activities such as talking on a messenger, browsing the net or even multi-tabling too many tables. This means that they occasionally will not realise it is their turn and time out, and then apologize for wasting time in the chat box.

Due to their lack of focus, they will be playing basic poker – raising with good hands and checking/folding bad hands. You can be confident that your opponent won’t be pulling any moves on you to win the hand. So if they bet, make sure you have a good hand to call with, or fold. If they check, try raising to win the pot. If they do call when you bet, they may be on a draw.

Online poker tells evaluation.

These are the most useful online poker tells that I have been able to pick up on in my time of playing online poker. Obviously as you can see there is not a lot that you can go on apart from the time a player takes to act in deciding what kind of hand they have. But remember that you should not just rely on little ticks and tells to find out if your opponent is bluffing.

The more you play the more you will understand the logistics of the game and be able to read people by their betting patterns. This is by far the best way to pick up on the strength of your opponent’s hand.

At the end of the day, there is no better tell than a player’s betting pattern.

Other useful links.

This was just a quick and basic guide to poker tells, and only online ones at that. If you're interested in finding out about poker tells in more detail, read Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells.

Go back to the awesome Texas Hold'em Strategy.


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