poker | poker strategy | avoiding the tells on online poker | jack beresfordCardspiel

Online poker paranoia…Avoiding the tells of the internet game

Jack Beresford offers advice to keep online poker stars from giving the game away

In life, as in poker, I’ve always been paranoid. From covering up my PIN number at the cash point to checking both ways twice when I cross the road, I’m deeply suspicious of anyone and firmly endorse the mantra that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

And while that attitude has generated guffaws and derision from friends and family, it’s stood me in good stead in the world of online poker. When it comes to playing cards, it pays to be paranoid, because here they really are – on the friendliest terms possible – out to get you.

Nowhere is this more important than in analysis of bluffs and tells – the cornerstone of any good poker player’s repertoire. Entire studies dedicated to the art of the tell have been coming to the fore of late and, quite frankly, scaring the bejesus out of me in the process.

Take Tufts University grad student Michael Slepian, who earlier this year published a study in the Psychological Science journal outlining a link between player hand movement patterns and the cards they received.

Based on research surrounding a series of two-second video clips captured during the World Series of Poker which focused on hand and arm movements, test subjects were able to effectively determine whether the player in question possessed a strong hand.

In essence, the study found that those bluffing often handled their cards and chips more awkwardly than those with good cards, many of whom were calmer and more lucid in their actions.

Online poker players can count themselves safe from this tell – you can’t see the hands or face of an internet player. But before you start getting too comfy, bear in mind that there are just as many tells in internet poker.

Delaying at the check, for instance, has long been seen as a move designed to create the illusion of a strong hand when the player in question isn’t particularly keen on betting but would like to stay in the game and see the next card. Alternatively, making a show of delaying the decision to bet can be a ploy to suck people into thinking they have a weaker hand.

Another familiar tell comes when a player opts to call you straight after a bet. They are most likely in possession of a drawing hand, but looking to intimidate you with an insta-call and make you check the next street.

Sometimes tells will emerge as a result of poor concentration, with instant checks providing the strongest indicator that the player in question is using the dreaded “in-turn” check/fold button while playing multiple tables. Stay focused on your cards and the actions of those around you and you could benefit from such ignorance, rather than be victim to it.

Another familiar online poker tell found in Texas Hold’em occurs when a player raises quickly on the river in a bid to double bluff his opponents. Be careful – this usually does indicate a strong hand.

A lesser-seen bluff occurs when an online poker player goes from checking and calling on the flop to betting into you on the turn. Chances are they have only picked up a draw, or may even be bluffing. Either way, raising is the perfect response.

Hopefully my experience of both exhibiting and witnessing these online tells will provide some guidance, but with internet play coming under increasing scrutiny, it may not be long before every millisecond before a bet means something.

You have been warned.

Image ‘170/365² Perseguido’ by Andrés Nieto Porras

> Photographer website

> License Info