Common physical tells of the poker world

Posted on: December 12, 2019

Poker is a game of strategy. Despite looking like a purely game of chance, it requires the engagement of both mind and body. Learning how to read common physical tells of poker players will surely level up one’s game. However, it requires a certain level of practice and dedication to be able to see the poker tells. Of course, it is hard for a player to spot these tells if they do not know anything about them at all. So, we have listed the most common physical tells of the poker world!

Eye contact
As in any situation, the ability to look straight into someone’s eyes indicates confidence. If a player is looking relaxed, even if they are looking directly at someone, it indicates that they have a strong hand. Players who are worried about their cards would typically look down and focus on their cards instead. In a bluff, the poker player may employ either of two techniques. First is to look away and avoid eye contact as not to engage their opponent too much. Second is to feign confidence and excessively look into their challenger’s eyes. If this happens, be sure to observe other physical tells besides how they make eye contact.

Handling chips
The way a player handles chips signifies their level of capability. A beginner poker player will handle their chips sloppily. On the other hand, a professional poker player will stack their chips in an orderly fashion. You will notice that they will arrange their chips like they know what they are doing. As opposed to a beginner who will look as if they are trying to figure out what the chips are.

Buying in manner
It is essential to observe how players do their buy-in. Those players who are usually loud and flamboyant will likely play in that manner. Those who look shy are probably more conservative in the way they play.

Taking time to decide
How quickly or slowly a player makes a decision often tells something about the cards they have. A player with a strong or medium hand will take extra time before acting. The reason for that is they need to think hard between betting or checking. Players who have a weak hand will often check quickly. Unless they know they can bluff their way out of that game, weak-handed players will try to get out of the game as soon as possible, knowing they do not have anything.

Body movements
The way the player moves can also signify the strength of their hand. For instance, stiff shoulders, good posture, tapping feet could indicate that they are impatient to bet. Smiling, flexing cheek muscles and throbbing vain in the head could mean that they are excited about something. Watch out for sudden changes in movement, as well. If a poker player who looks shy and inattentive before, suddenly pays attention, you know something is up.

While these are the common physical tells in the poker world, it is smart to not really on them. Some experienced players employ specific techniques, such as purposely acting loud or shy, to confuse their opponents. Spotting real physical tells takes practice. It is also equally important to say that players cannot merely rely on tells. Poker, after all, is a card game. Real power is in your cards and strategy.

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