Wed. May 22nd, 2024

If you want to give yourself a competitive advantage over your opponents, you must learn how to read them. This poker strategy requires you to learn different poker tells to understand what hand your opponent is holding and make necessary adjustments.

Reading your opponent can differ when you play a live and online game. Live games offer a much better chance of observing your opponents than online poker. However, there are still some tells or signs you can use to identify the hand strength of your opponents online, but that’s for another time.

In this article, we will discuss actions or behaviors your opponent does and what they might mean in live games. It’s important to emphasize that not all actions always mean one thing. Sometimes you might get it wrong, but it’s okay because it is an opportunity to help you learn more to improve your reading skills in poker.

Photo by Pexels

Willful Staring

There are those professionals who, under all circumstances, will stare down their adversaries. They intend to make other players uncomfortable and up the tension in the scenario rather than intimidate them into quitting.

But when it comes to amateurs, it’s an entirely different situation. A novice player is likely bluffing if they continue to stare at you after placing a large wager. They are trying to make up for their poor hand with a “scary” gaze. They expect you’ll return in response to their behavior.

On the other hand, even though looking off into space is typically a sign of weakness, you should weigh other factors while making decisions. For instance, take note if your opponent starts chatting and teasing you into calling. When they have a stone-cold bluff, most recreational players lack the guts to converse and tease you casually.

Action Speed

Occasionally, players who are ordinarily quite adept at concealing tells will reveal a great deal of information by altering how long it takes them to act according to the strength of their hands.

Given the circumstance and the player’s final move, “timing poker tells” frequently operates somewhat differently. This is one of the most prevalent poker actions you will encounter at the table.

Most of the time, players taking extra time before checking are actually deliberating whether to bet or not to check. That’s a sign that they have something โ€”possibly a draw, a hand of medium strength, or perhaps a strong handโ€”and are considering semi-bluffing.

Meanwhile, individuals who check frequently and rapidly are actually weak. Calling bets out fast also often denotes relative weakness but not total nothingness. These players typically have drawing hands or middle- or bottom-pair that they don’t want to bloat the pot with when they make rapid calls after the flop.

Meanwhile, waiting a while before making a call is less definitive because these players occasionally have weak hands or are on draws, which you presumably already assume since they are calling and not raising.

Photo by Pexels

How They Stack Chips

One of the key indicators of the type of player you are playing against is how a player lays his chips. This tell can help you recognize and categorize your competitors before the game starts.

The key lies in how the player maintains order in their stack of chips. If the player keeps a tidy pile, you’re looking at a tight player. They rarely bluff and typically make solid calls. When the board is not connected, a tight player can frequently be taken advantage of by using semi-bluffs and bluffs. The advantage of playing against a tight player is that you can move aside when they have a hand if you’ve correctly identified them as tight.

An opponent who has a disorganized stack of chips is most likely a loose player who will be bluffing and acting irrationally. These individuals can make you wealthy or steal your entire stack if a wild hand is dealt. When calling with strong hands against loose players, be cautious but aggressive.

Strange Bet Sizings

A player’s stake size may reveal their hand or, at the very least, give the other players a decent indication of what they are holding.

An example of a weird betting size is “scare bets.” The opponent is probably trying to frighten individuals away from the table if they’re not going all in but are betting 5โ€“10 times the initial wager.

This poker betting strategy is a way for your opponent to scare you when they know you have a weak hand. They are doing this because they might be hiding something. This move gives them a chance to escape the situation since they aren’t confident by not going all in.

As a player, you are responsible for actively pursuing loose and aggressive players. These are the players who bluff more frequently.

Photo by Pexels

Degree of Concentration

With the prevalence of mobile devices, some players bring their own distractions to the game. You might look around to determine the level of interest the players are displaying, particularly before the flop when all of them are considered to be in the hand.

It’s a sign that players lose interest in their cards when they start checking their phones. These players might be less likely to participate, similar to the players holding their cards that they are about to fold.

Even during post-flop, several players will continue to display their disinterest in the game by acting differently, appearing more focused on ordering a drink or watching on a nearby television than paying serious attention to the hand.

Identifying players’ level of focus may not always be a reliable predictor of their specific hand strengths in that exact hands. However, it frequently provides more general information regarding players’ poker skills, which is still helpful.

The player at the table who isn’t paying attention is missing out on all the knowledge that you, the player who is paying attention, are continuously accumulating. You can use their distractions by using poker tactics to make them fold.


Determining your opponents’ strengths can help you make better decisions at the table by adjusting your poker techniques. You can exploit their weakness or avoid them to prevent losing all your chips. Using these live poker tells can be helpful when playing in a casino.

However, it is also important to know that certain tells do not always mean a player is weak or strong. Sometimes you might get it wrong, but it’s not a big deal because it will help you gain more experience understanding how other players act. The more knowledge you earn, the better you become at reading your opponents.