How do you determine what kind of hand your opponents are holding? The official term is “tells”. These are actions by players that give away the value of their hand.
A general rule to remember is a poor player will try to convey weakness when he is strong i.e. slamming down his fist when a card is revealed. The opposite is generally true when your opponent is bluffing. He may bet his chips loudly and aggressively, or simply lean forward and stare you down.
Think about it this way, when you have a good hand do you try to scare your opponent into folding or do you try avoid doing anything that would make him not want to call you?
So to help you out here are a few common poker tells…
- The most obvious is shaking hands. It indicates nervousness. But remember this could mean either he is bluffing or he has an extremely strong hand.
- Another sign of nervousness is reaching for his drink.
- Many players look at their chips when they get a good flop.
- Some new players put their hand over their mouth, trying to conceal a smile, when they get a good hand.
- Players who claim to be betting just for the sake of gambling or they want to go home generally have a big hand. The opposite is also true, if a player suddenly goes silent he probably also has a very good hand.
- As mentioned previously, eye contact such as staring you down, generally means the player is bluffing and conversely if your opponent is avoiding eye contact it generally means they have a strong hand.
- Don’t underestimate facial expressions. There are some obvious ones to look out for like a nervous tic but when the cards are revealed watch for expressions of sadness or confidence, even the slightest flinch can give a player away.
- If you have regular opponents make note of their betting patterns. I.e. a tight player may only bet on say 3 of a kind, others may always slow play a nut flush etc.