Poker is an extremely fun and exciting game that is played by people from all over the world and one of the reasons it is so popular is because it is not entirely dependent on luck.

Any poker player will, of course, need to have a decent mathematical understanding of the value of various poker hands but there is so much more to it. At the poker table, you will certainly not be the only one watching the hand that has been dealt to you and the same applies to all of your opponents.

Fortunately, you don’t have to get a peek at your opponent’s hand in order to get an idea of how strong or how their hand may be. This is exactly where “poker tells” come in. These are simply physical, or verbal cues or even habits that may offer some sort of insight into the value of an opponent’s hand at the poker table.

Needless to say, these will vary from one player to another and may not be totally infallible. However, experienced poker players will know how to discern this and how to use the tells in combination with other poker skills to get an upper hand at the table.

There is a plethora of poker tells you need to pay attention to but in your journey towards becoming a pro, a few of the ones that you should pay a lot of attention to include:

1. Chip or Card Handling

At the poker tables, the way any particular player handles their chips or cards especially if they are the ones waiting to act is a huge indication of whether they are ready to call or bet. In most cases, it is used by players with somewhat weak or not too strong hands in a bid to discourage the opponents from playing. This is a defensive move and it can indicate an intent to either call or fold – the bigger the bet, the higher the chances of folding.

Some players will also double-check their cards after a flop, turn, or river which is in an indication that they may have a weaker hand and are therefore unsure of their next move. Those who double-check the hole cards after a significant bet are likely to have strong hands.

2. Time Taken to Act

Now, poker is quite an engaging game where every single decision is likely to have an impact on the final outcome. That said, time is usually of the essence – in fact, some poker games have specific windows of time within which the players are meant to perform an action. Usually, players with strong hands hesitate or pause when making significant bets. Those with weaker hands, on the other hand tend to bet normally in a bid to avoid being picked up on.

3. Unusually Quick Calls

Most times when a player immediately calls a bet, it is very likely that they are trying to rule out a raise. Players with weak hands often do this as opposed to those with stronger hands who are more interested in playing their hand the best way possible and getting the most value out of it. A player with a strong hand will take a bit of time to think over the move to only call. This is one of the best tells for most poker games.

4. Weak or Not?

A weak hand in a game of poker can be quite hard to spot but it is also important to acknowledge that some people may use this tell to their advantage. Players with weak hands will often try to steer off as much attention as they can. That said, if a player openly tries to portray weakness, it is very likely that this is a bluff and they actually have a rather strong hand, to say the least.

5. How Players Handle Bet Sizing

This a pretty easy one to catch on. Players with weak hands are likely to have a bit of trouble when it comes to bet sizing. The best they place will show exactly how strong a player’s hand is with big bets implying big cards and small bets indicating small bets. This might not be apparent if it happens only once but if your opponent repeatedly places small bets, it is almost always guaranteed that they have built up a strong hand when they finally make a big bet.

Is That All?

Certainly not. But they are enough to get you started. All of the methods mentioned in this article are just the tip of the iceberg and a fantastic way to get started in learning the nuances that come with these poker tells. Poker is a rather complex game and each player will try to find ways that favor their gameplay, especially in the online arena where some physical tells can’t be exploited much to some players’ peril but it’s all about practice.

If you’re ready to take a day off work and test out some of these techniques we would recommend trying some practise games for free on trusted online poker sites. Or if you’re feeling like jumping into the deeper end, you can always wager smaller amounts on some of the best online poker sites like to get a feel for the type of nuanced strategies that real money poker offers on the digital felt. It is up to you to get acquainted with the game and your opponents in order to make great use of the poker tells. So practise, enjoy the game and happy betting!