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Poker Tells

We often hear someone say something like, Oh, I could never be a fine poker player. I have such a terrible poker face. Or, ďI would not be very good at poker. I simply canít tell a lie, so I wonít be able to bluff with a straight face.Ē What is it that distinguishes average and good players from the great ones? Well, obviously, tell recognition is one factor, but itís simply not the most significant. The retort is: hand-reading ability; the ability to process information that you have gathered from your opponent in the existing hand and in past hands, and to utilize that information to narrow down your opponents holdings. Focusing your opponents betting patterns and understanding what they are and arenít capable of doing, makes this quite easier. So, when you hear people talk about ďreading people, what it really comes down to is reading into your rivalís mind what he is thinking at the moment, and trying to understand how he would play various situations.

An important tip

Now, we shouldnít be telling you this, but I will at any rate. It is just a scare tactic used by many pros to make you feel uncomfortable. Consider this: When you make a bet (whether itís a bluff or not) and your rival throws his hand in at once, or even calls immediately, is it menacing? No, it is not. Well, what if he takes some extra time? He stares you down and cuts his chips out to make it look like he wants to rise, and so on. Now, that might just make you sweat a little bit, particularly if you are really bluffing! If it doesnít make you sweat, it at least might make you sore having a guy stare at you for so long. Itís all a strategy, as simple as that.

What you say, or what you do with your eyes and hands, can be real giveaways to the power of your holding. Famous players watch almost everything, and many do have an intrinsic ability to read body language. You donít ever want to dismiss tells from your poker repertoire, but you just might just be better off putting less weight on their importance.

There is a simple rule that is followed by many players when theyíre being stared down: The tougher their rival, the less they will do. If they believe theyíre up against an average or weak player, they may send out some false tells and basically try to manipulate the opponentís decision in their favor

They may even create a comment; it just depends on what they think I need to do to influence the opponentís mind. A great player can usually perceive that act, though, so you donít want to give him anything. If you give him zilch and he still tells you he can ďsee through your soul,Ē donít sweat it; I reassure you itís just another scare ploy.