Professional poker players look out for opponents tells to help them win the game. While not everybody has tells, knowing what to look for will give you an advantage when playing poker with friends or in a casino. In this article, we explore poker psychology and give you some tips. Keep reading to find out more!
What is a tell in poker?
When exploring poker psychology, the first thing to cover is poker tells. So, what is a tell in poker? Essentially, a tell is any action, either physical or verbal, that players make that might give away information about their hands.
When playing a live poker game, it’s not unusual to see opponents revealing information via poker tells without being aware that they’re doing so. In some circumstances, players will deliberately act in a certain way to try to mislead their opponents, so it’s important to know what to look out for.
Of course, another important part of poker psychology is minimising your own tells. But we will explore this in more detail later on in the article.
Handling chips and/or cards
In poker psychology, one of the main things to look out for is the way opponents handle their chips and/or cards. Occasionally, you may see a player’s hands trembling when looking at their cards or handling chips. Of course, it’s usually inexperienced players that show obvious tells like this, so it’s not always that simple with poker pros! However, if you do spot a player with shaking hands, the good news is that they’re probably not trying to mislead you. Trembling is a true sign of nervousness and is very difficult to fake, so chances are they are concerned about their cards.
How a player handles chips can also be a tell in poker psychology. The way they handle the chips can help you to read them and put them in a range. Typically, players with a strong hand grab chips well before their turn, showing a desire to bet. Players with a weaker hand will leave the chips untouched until the last second.
Occasionally, players will do the opposite of this to mislead you. They may try to give the impression they want to bet to try and discourage you from betting yourself. Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to tell whether a player is trying to deceive you – the best thing you can do is watch their body language.
Before flopping, many players signal their intention to fold before their turn. They do this by holding their cards rather than leaving them on the table. If they’re using a card protector, they might neglect to use it when they intend to fold. This is a common poker tell in poker psychology.
When using poker psychology to spot poker tells, the most important thing is to look for a pattern in behaviour. This will give you a more reliable idea of what they plan to do.
Bluffing in poker
Bluffing is another key part of poker psychology. In poker, a bluff is when you make a bet in an attempt to make your opponent fold, helping you to win by default. While players can bluff at any time in a poker game, look out for it at the most opportune times. For instance, when they think their opponents will fold.
Poker psychology tips
The first poker psychology tip is to know yourself. Take time for self-reflection and get to know your tells – this way, you can work out how to avoid them. Every player, whether you’re new or experienced, has a unique set of skills, preferences, and allowances that define a style. Getting to know your style can help you to win more often.
Know your opponents
Next on the list of poker psychology tips is to get to know your opponents. If you play the same people regularly, take time to get to know their style, strengths, and weaknesses so you can work out how to beat them. Getting to know your opponents will also help you to spot their tells.
When playing online poker, getting to know your opponents is more difficult; however, it’s not impossible. You can’t look them in the eye, but you can still get a feel for the way they play and spot any patterns in their game. This information can prove valuable when you’re playing the same people regularly.
Be confident but not egotistical
Another poker psychology tip is to be confident without being egotistical. Successful poker players are confident, after all, they play with a great amount of money at stake. Before you start the game, you must believe that you can win. Visualise yourself beating your opponents and winning the game. If you don’t believe in yourself, take some more time to develop your skills before hitting the table.
While confidence is important, don’t let it get the best of you. Arrogance is a weakness in poker. It’s easy to detect and therefore easy to exploit – as soon as your opponent knows you have an ego issue, they’ve got everything they need to manipulate you.
Avoid obvious tells
Saving the best till last – the most important thing in poker psychology is to avoid obvious tells. If you can learn how to spot your opponent’s tells, they can do exactly the same. The best way to avoid obvious tells is to spend some time looking into them. Then, take time to analyse your performance and check whether you’re doing any of them. If you are, you can then take the necessary steps to avoid them.