Entertainment: The online poker ‘tells’ you need to know


When playing live poker, poker ‘tells’ are a sure-fire way of gauging what kind of players you are up against and give you an idea of deciphering the strength of their hand, their overall skill level or even their game plan. Converting this into the online environment is a lot more difficult as you’re not physically sat with these people. However, their mannerisms during gameplay or even through the chat function could help give away more about them. If you’re paying enough attention, you could well cash in. So, without further ado, here are the online poker tells you need to watch out for.

Time is of the essence… sometimes

Players call for a number of reasons. Players who are unsure if they are ahead may call quickly to convey confidence, when in reality they aren’t as confident. If your opponent is looking to trap you, they’ll pause to suggest weakness; while a player who takes a moment to work out their move, could well be floating, meaning they wish to unsettle you.

Taking a long pause in different scenarios can also mean different things too. If a player is taking a while before deciding to check, they’re trying to show you they have a difficult decision to make. But don’t be fooled, they’re leading you into a false sense of security and don’t actually have worthy cards. However, on the other hand, a player that takes a long pause and then chooses to bet is trying to make it look like they have a tough decision to make, when in reality, they have decent cards. They are trying to show weakness by taking their time – but don’t buy it.

Quick checking is a sign of weakness, but be cautious when a player pulls this move, as they could well be bluffing and take longer on the next round. If this is the case, watch out for them, as they could have a decent hand. Quick betting could also be seen as a player bluffing, as if they have a decent hand, they’d need a moment to think about their move. By stark contrast, they could use this technique to show their authority over the game, so proceed with caution.

The size of the bet could well be a giveaway

Small bets are an indication of weakness, particularly after calling; while over-betting is harder to suss out. Depending on this player’s previous behaviours, they have either got a strong hand, or are totally bluffing. Wait to see this type of player make it to showdown before fully reading into their tell. If they have a history of over-calling and either don’t make it to showdown or aren’t successful a player, you’ll know it’s all a myth.

Similarly, some players bet really odd amounts and it’s often a sign that the player is bluffing and has a weak hand – but their bet makes the number of chips they put into the pot look bigger.

To chat or not to chat?

Generally speaking, experienced and serious player will not engage in mindless chatter, so take advantage of any player that regularly uses the chat function in your poker room. In particular, if a player who posts the big blind is constantly engaging in conversation, it’s likely they haven’t good a good hand.

Players who are constantly bemoaning their luck – or lack of it – to other players is no doubt on the tilt, or close to it and are easy prey. When in this kind of mindset, it’s just best to leave the game.


It’s best to always be aware of your own tells, as well as the tells of other players – and avoid giving them away if possible. As we mentioned before, in an online environment, tells are harder to pick up than in a live game, but experienced players will know the signs. Pattern recognition skills are vital when learning about individual players and their skill levels. Make sure you use these to pick up on any potential tells.

If you think you’re capable of reading other players, see how you get on with hold’em from Paddy Power.

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