It’s natural to assume that online gaming changed the nature of poker forever – that the bluffing, body language (and reading body language) would change the dynamic and playing style. Would losing the ability to identify tells – and exploit them – force the world’s best players to adopt a whole new strategy? You might be surprised to learn that online play has a whole set of tells that players can act on. Here are some of the most common.
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In a game where you cannot identify or read changes in the person’s body language, tone or actions, you need to rely more on their non-physical reactions. Timing is one of the best ways you can read your opponent. Though this is true when playing at a physical table, it becomes even more crucial with online poker.
This is one of the strongest indications that they have a weak hand. They are trying to force a quick move from you and speed the game up a little. Most importantly, they want you to think they have a strong hand and put you on the back foot.
Lengthy pause before bet /raise:
Similarly, they want you to think they have a weaker hand than they actually have so they feign insecurity. They want you to call or raise but the only one calling here is your opponent; they are calling your bluff.
Usually indicative of a player who does not want you to bet and are attempting to dominate the game by presenting an air of strength. Like some of the others here, this type of arrogance is hiding a weak playing position.
These typically indicate a very weak hand. Playing against this type of player will result in you taking the pot. They are looking for a showdown while coming from a position of weakness.
As with playing at a physical table, the size of a bet can be an indication of what sort of hand they have or what sort of player they might be. Bluffing is still possible using a size of a bet and with the ability to enter any value as a stake, this has created a whole new dynamic to learning tells.
Strange bet value:
Bets for £7.50, £9.98, £4.23 are designed to raise the curiosity of other players and lose sight of their own hand. Some players do it all the time but when it demonstrates a change of playing tactics, it can indicate a strong hand. They are setting bait for other players to call them.
Varying bet size:
This is a complicated one to analyse because it depends on the type of player so it is best to work out patterns before coming to a conclusion. Some players bet high when they are strong and low when weak. For some player types, the opposite is true – they will bluff with big bets when it is all they have left and bet low when they have a strong hand to make people think they are in a weak position.
Other General Observations
The following present unique situations for online gaming. The key is always to recognise the playing style of your opponent, what types of distractions they use, and how they attempt to bluff their opponents.
Online poker games permit chatting during a game. Always exercise caution and read behaviour as you go along. Friendliness can be genuine or it can be a distraction. Aggression could be an attempt to intimidate you, or it could be genuine. Somebody who talks very little could be indicative of a conservative player.
Breaking pattern of play:
This applies online and offline but becomes more reliable in the online world. As a game progresses, you will get a feel for an opponent’s playing style. Any change in their betting, calling or raising pattern should indicate to you that they presently hold a strong hand.