There are a number of
tells that you might see during the course
of a hold'em game. All of these tells are
covered more in depth in Winners Guide to
Texas Hold'Em Poker by Ken Warren, in
Mike Caro's fantastic book Caro's Book of
Tells and in the accompanying video, Caro's
Pro Poker Tells.
What follows is a list of those tells with a brief explanation of each one. What I've characterized as "tells" include both specific mannerisms and general personality types. To help you develop a feel for the relative value of each one, I've rated each tell for you using the following scale:
* - you won't see it often, has little value
** - occurs often enough to help your hourly rate.
** - common tell, well worth knowing, good value
**** - high frequency, very reliable, high value
1. Impatience. ** A player who is in a hurry to play his hand usually has a decent hand. It won't be a great hand, though, because a player holding or will usually wait until it's his turn
to act to let anything be known about his hand.
2. Mannerism changes. ** Players who suddenly sit up in their chairs, put out their cigarettes, quickly finish their drinks, abruptly end conversations, or summarily dismiss any spectators usually have very good hands. You don't have to do any of things if you intend to fold when it's your turn.
3. Showing a hand to a spectator. ** A player who shows a hand to a non-player when play begins usually has a good starting hand. A player who shows his hand to a non-player at the end of a hand, particularly when all the cards are out and he is awaiting a call from a lone opponent, usually has a bad hand. Showing it is an effort to convince the other player that he is proud of his hand. When you see this tell, the bettor is usually betting as a stone cold bluff.
4. First play by a good player. ** Good players like to win the first hand they voluntarily enter the pot with, so they can play with "your" money instead of theirs. Keep an eye on the player who usually doesn't play when he's in the small blind. If he does call in the small blind, he has a very good hand.
5. Staring at the flop. **** Players who continue to stare at the flop after the dealer turns it up usually did not flop anything. There's nothing there for them and it takes a few more seconds to double check it and make sure.
6. Seeing the flop and quickly looking away. **** If you should hold , and the flop is
, the flop is easy to read even if you still have to take an extra second or two
to make sure you've read it properly. If you hold , however, and the flop is
, it will look like this to you:
When you see this, you'll know instantly that you're going to bet. You'll quickly glance at your chips to make sure they're still there, and then you'll look away from the table, feigning total disinterest in the hand.
7. Covering one's mouth. ** A player who covers his mouth after betting is usually bluffing. What you're seeing is a conflict between the external physical action of betting and the internal knowledge of knowing that you're " lying."
8. Betting in a flamboyant style. ** A player who throws his chips into the pot in a forceful or obviously exaggerated manner is usually bluffing. At the very least, he's trying to intimidate you into checking into him on the next round.
9.Making directed bets. *** A player who calls a bet by throwing his chips in the specific direction of a particular player (usually the bettor) is trying to intimidate the bettor into checking on the next round.
10. Staring at other players. *** This tell occurs most often after the river card comes and a player has missed a big draw. He will often noticeably raise his head from looking down at the flop, turn it to the left or right to face his sole opponent squarely, and then stare right at him. In poker language, this move means, "I just missed my flush draw. I'm entitled to win this hand, but I can't call a bet. Don't you dare bet into me."