The Best Methods for Spotting Your Poker Tells and Why It Matters

People Sitting at a Poker Table Gambling

One of the most valuable skills a poker player can have is picking up on opponents’ tells. By catching glimpses of nearly imperceptible changes or actions by your competition, you have another level of information.

As a general rule, the more information gamblers have, the more of an advantage the gambler gains. Players have a massive edge when you play blackjack in a game where both of the dealer’s cards are face-up.

When poker players can pick up on tells, they gain a more substantial advantage. But these tells are a double-edged sword to players that don’t examine their quirks.

We’re going to examine the best methods for spotting your poker tells and why it matters. If you’ll start checking your own game, it cuts down on other players’ opportunities to catch you on a hand.

But, more importantly, it gives you chances to start being more mindful of the tells of others.

Time Your Hands in Casual Games

Depending on the situation, most players tend to act more aggressively or reservedly than usual. The most common action is for players to bet faster when they bluff and more hesitant when they are way ahead.

The entire idea is to be decisive and push an opponent off a pot or more slowly to show hesitation to get more action in the pot. It’s something that many players rarely consider but plays a severe role in the game.

You can set a timer to start each time the action comes your way. This set of hands will help you determine what your tendencies are in the poker room.

You can then adjust accordingly to keep your opponents guessing at the poker table. In reality, the best practice is to maintain a consistent timeframe for each hand.

You may find it challenging to time yourself while you’re at the tables. So, you could enlist a friend to time you during a session or tournament and see how the action looks when you have good hands or trash.

I started playing poker in a cash game that was full of regulars. There was an attorney in the crew that some of us dubbed molasses.

Whenever he had the nuts, he’d draw out the hand as long as possible. I suppose it was some form of grandstanding that carried itself from the courtroom to the poker room.

I watched this player miss out on tens of thousands by his innate desire to subconsciously tell everybody in the room what a great hand he had. He had a similar tell when he bluffed where he’d stare straight ahead until it was down to the river.

Then he’d stare straight at the players who were on the action. It was like he was trying to will them into folding.

It worked occasionally, but molasses single-handedly funded all my partying as a sophomore in college.

Ask a Trusted Confidant to Point Them Out

If you’re fortunate enough to have a trusted circle of gambling friends, you should utilize their skills and insight.

It’s a humbling task to request another player to help you out. However, the players who see you the most often are well-equipped to point out your weaknesses.

Poker Hand on Table with Chips

There’s a risk that you run by asking players in your regular poker games for help. They may have you pegged and are more concerned with lining their pockets than helping you beat them.

So, I suggest only asking players that don’t stand to lose or gain from the conversation. If you don’t have this type of support system in place, I recommend building a trusted confidant at the table.

You can share information and use each other to practice and enhance your poker skills.

Mark Cards to Stop the Number One Tell

I spend a lot of time observing players on the low-stakes tables. One thing that many of the players have in common is touching their cards.

It’s so rampant that if a player touches their cards more than once in a hand, I’ll often fold early. You may be doing this without even realizing it.

Some players practice by marking the backs of the cards with ink or other substances. When you touch your cards, you’ll receive an instant reminder of the misstep.

I prefer never to touch my cards after I see my hand. Any fidgeting with the cards or checking your hand sends a clear signal to the table that something is going on with you.

So, you’re going to struggle to make the most of good situations. It takes a lot of practice to stop touching your cards, but it’s worth the effort.

Gauge the Tables’ Reaction When You Have Good Hands

Watching how the table reacts to you can tell you a lot about how you’re projecting information. If they call or raise every time you make a particular move, you likely have a tell.

That’s fine, but you need to identify what that tells is to maximize your wins. You can send mixed signals to the table if you know your poker tells.

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For example, if you scratch your left temple anytime you have a poor hand, you can rub your left temple with a strong hand. This action is sure to elicit a response from the table.

So, instead of calling what they believe is a bluff, they’re committing chips to a pot where you could easily be in the lead.

The key is to watch how other players are reacting to you. If they are constantly making the right play based on your bluffs or great hands, the odds are that you’ve got some significant tells.

Pay Attention to Your Hands

You can’t hide what the hands are telling the table by placing a hoodie and sunglasses on them. I’ve heard of players wearing giant ski mittens to hide what their hands are doing.

Good luck fumbling around with chips and your cards as you’re trying to play it cool with giant mittens in your hands.

It’s common for players’ hands to begin shaking when they get a killer hand, but you don’t want your opponents to pick up on that. The most helpful tactic for disguising this involuntary action is practice.

Rest your hands on the table when it’s not your turn to act. The more practice you have in the poker room, the less this tell will affect you.

However, the hands have a way of becoming less controllable whenever the adrenaline starts pumping. So, be prepared for shaky hands at the least opportune times.

Record Your Playing Sessions

Watching yourself on camera can be uncomfortable, but the rewards are astonishing. Having a friend record sessions is an excellent way to watch yourself in the heat of the action.

You’ll be the first to pick up on your tells. When I first watched myself, I saw several tells that the table never picked up on during my session.

Las Vegas Poker Game

Taking this preemptive approach to spotting and eliminating your poker tells will only make you a more profitable gambler in the future.

You can also use the camera on your phone to record yourself playing home games or online. Carefully examining your facial expressions during your hands can bring things to light that you would never have noticed.

Sit in a Broken Chair to Play

I had an old-school poker friend that made me sit in a broken chair every game I played at his place for over a year. I was still in college and had a ton of excess energy.

As a result, I would move around a lot at the poker table. By putting me in a chair with one leg a full three inches shorter than the rest, he was forcing me to sit still.

The exercise paid extraordinary dividends, and after a few months, I had stopped leaning back in my chair and making other tells evident to the entire table.

I always wondered why I had to spend so many more nights in that chair. I think my buddy merely enjoyed picking on the kid, which is fine by me.

Our Conclusion

You’ll never make the most profit in the casino without knowing your poker tells. By understanding your tells, you can find the best ways to mask them.

You never know when giving your opponent a small piece of the puzzle will help them beat you. The best method for spotting your poker tells and why it matters is geared towards making you a better poker player.

Use these methods to your advantage and turn the tables on your opponents through misdirection. Then you’ll start seeing better results consistently.