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Poker Tells/Behavior, hosted by: Zachary Elwood Discussions about poker tells, behavior, and psychology, with a focus on live poker.

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Old 06-13-2017, 05:57 AM   #1
Yeodan
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Easiest live tells to spot?

What are the easiest tells to notice in a live full ring game?

I find it hard to keep track of 8 players not really knowing what I'm looking for.

Things I'm currently trying to watch are:
- bet sizing
- what people do with their hands when betting / after betting
- where people look when betting / after betting


One of the easiest tells to spot is the shaking hands when people have a strong hand. Although I've noticed this is not always correct, it does seem to be correct most of the time, especially for new players.

Are there any other easy to spot and useful tells?
It's fine if they require establishing a baseline.

Who are the most useful players to keep an eye on?
If someone at my table is playing aggressive I'm usually focussing on them more than on the other players.
Should I play more attention to the players on my direct left and/or right?


A few weeks ago I played two hands against this guy.
He bet into me heads up on the flop, and then continued to look away from the table / look disinterested.
I folded and he showed a bluff.
A few hands later he bet into me again but this time stared directly at me.
I snap folded and he showed a monster.

A week or two later, I ran into him again and he 3bet me preflop.
I was holding a medium pair, 77 or 88 something.
He 3bet me all-in (for like 15-20 BB closing in on the bubble in a tournament)
He then continued to look away / look disinterested.
I figured last time he did that he was weak, so he was more likely to be weak now? Definetely not expecting him to have a high pair.
So I called and he showed AA!?

What did I miss?
Were my previous reads only viable because they were post-flop (or heads-up, don't remember exactly)
Did he change his behaviour because it was pre-flop in a multiway pot?
I don't think this player is good enough to pick up on the fact that I noticed his tell.
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Old 06-14-2017, 12:53 AM   #2
apokerplayer
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

In regards to you saying it's tough to watch 8 players at once. I recommend just watching the 2 or so players directly behind you for an entire session. For a few reasons:

• These players are right behind you so you will sometimes get tells related to them getting ready to act.
• These players have direct position on you so if you do find something it can be valuable.
• You can see them clearly.
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Old 06-14-2017, 12:57 AM   #3
apokerplayer
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Regarding the eye-contact tells:

What usually happens is that players with strong hands are capable of a wide variety of behavior: in this case, he's probably equally comfortable looking at you or not looking at you when he's betting a strong hand.

Players who are bluffing, though, will usually be more restrained in their behavior. In this case, I think it's probably likely that he will mostly avoid eye-contact when bluffing. While this can of course vary and is player-specific, in my opinion this is the most common recreational player eye-contact pattern and it's one to watch for.

So having said all that, we have a situation where:

• Looking at you after making a significant bet is tied to strength
• Looking away from you after making a bet is much more ambiguous, because it is possible with both strong hands and weak hands.

As with a lot of tells, getting reads of strength is a lot easier than getting reads of weakness.
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Old 06-26-2017, 02:15 AM   #4
leavesofliberty
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

There's the possibility that your opponent is tricky, knows basic tells, and is perhaps purposefully mixing-up behaviour to confuse you. Tells aren't 100%, and they are less reliable they are among sophisticated opponents. I mean, he shows you almost to give you a false-tell, which is way on the tricky side. It might not even be worth figuring-out tells on this guy.

Last edited by leavesofliberty; 06-26-2017 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:18 AM   #5
Rizzeedizzee
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

It's an old and well-known one, but I do find that players often will quickly look down at their chips if the flop hits them hard.
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:18 PM   #6
leavesofliberty
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

The Mike Caro "Non-Combat Tells" are useful, and a good starting point for beginners learning to get into tells theory.
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:19 PM   #7
leavesofliberty
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rizzeedizzee View Post
It's an old and well-known one, but I do find that players often will quickly look down at their chips if the flop hits them hard.
+1. I definitely did this a lot when I first started playing.
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:21 PM   #8
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by leavesofliberty View Post
There's the possibility that your opponent is tricky, knows basic tells, and is perhaps purposefully mixing-up behaviour to confuse you. Tells aren't 100%, and they are less reliable they are among sophisticated opponents. I mean, he shows you almost to give you a false-tell, which is way on the tricky side. It might not even be worth figuring-out tells on this guy.
I don't invest too too much in tells but I do occasionally make some kind of motion to touch my lip or put my chin on my knuckles or something when I have the nuts and want a call. Generally touching mouth shows weakness and a lot of players are aware of this tell. Another one is the hopping your foot or leg supposedly shows strength. Perhaps you've seen the classic Hellmuth reverse tell call.

One of the first times I tried the mouth contact I got a guy to snap me off that was in the tank so now I definitely mix it in my game when they're tanking.

This is why you have to be careful putting too much stock into tells. They can be used against you.
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Old 06-27-2017, 06:44 PM   #9
leavesofliberty
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

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Originally Posted by smokesx View Post
I don't invest too too much in tells but I do occasionally make some kind of motion to touch my lip or put my chin on my knuckles or something when I have the nuts and want a call. Generally touching mouth shows weakness and a lot of players are aware of this tell. Another one is the hopping your foot or leg supposedly shows strength. Perhaps you've seen the classic Hellmuth reverse tell call.

One of the first times I tried the mouth contact I got a guy to snap me off that was in the tank so now I definitely mix it in my game when they're tanking.

This is why you have to be careful putting too much stock into tells. They can be used against you.
Touching your lip does not really show weakness. I knew someone who would lick their lips (an appetite thing) when they had a strong hand or better. If such a tell were discovered to be accurate on a player, it's a huge advantage.

Cold reading is not always good though as you can't be sure. OP's opponent not only seems like a trickster, but a trickster that was out to get OP with false-tells.
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Old 06-30-2017, 02:45 PM   #10
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

An older guy I have played with on a regular basis for 5+ years who is very much an OMC always picks up a few chips while the action is being checked to him and he doesn't want anyone to bet. He always sits 2 seats to my left and when he does this and if he is closing the action I always bet regardless of my holding before it reaches him if it's 3 to 4 way action including him. This has worked at a very high percentage for me against him.
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Old 07-01-2017, 01:31 AM   #11
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by apokerplayer View Post
Regarding the eye-contact tells:

What usually happens is that players with strong hands are capable of a wide variety of behavior: in this case, he's probably equally comfortable looking at you or not looking at you when he's betting a strong hand.

Players who are bluffing, though, will usually be more restrained in their behavior. In this case, I think it's probably likely that he will mostly avoid eye-contact when bluffing. While this can of course vary and is player-specific, in my opinion this is the most common recreational player eye-contact pattern and it's one to watch for.

So having said all that, we have a situation where:

• Looking at you after making a significant bet is tied to strength
• Looking away from you after making a bet is much more ambiguous, because it is possible with both strong hands and weak hands.

As with a lot of tells, getting reads of strength is a lot easier than getting reads of weakness.
I tend to do the reverse. I usually eyeball someone when I'm bluffing and look away when I have nuttish hands.
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:51 PM   #12
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

I would say that if you're attempting to deploy a strategy of picking up tells and you want to focus your attention on fewer than 8 players you'd probably be best to pick up tells from the players at the table with as much or more money in play than you.

I definitely agree with what others have said about being careful because a better player can use fake tells as a tactic against you. But, if you feel you have the ability to detect fake tells vs real tells I'd say you're best off detecting these from those who can yield you the highest earnings. If there is a mega short-stack at your table it would be nice to stack them but if you're playing a lot and/or for a very long session presumably you're playing to win with the highest win rate so you're best to figure out those with the most potential winnings (for you to collect).
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Old 07-03-2017, 07:44 PM   #13
Woej10
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rizzeedizzee View Post
It's an old and well-known one, but I do find that players often will quickly look down at their chips if the flop hits them hard.
+1 to this. It's one of the few tells I think I've used effectively. I struggle spotting patterns as many are situational or don't happen enough in a game for me to tell if it's a solid read but this one is very easy to spot as the villain will do it (or not) every time he's in a pot.

Used this one to great advantage on at least 2 occasions recently I can think of. Now I know it's a big tell I actively look for it every time any player on the table makes a decision.
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Old 07-07-2017, 03:31 AM   #14
leavesofliberty
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cckid View Post
An older guy I have played with on a regular basis for 5+ years who is very much an OMC always picks up a few chips while the action is being checked to him and he doesn't want anyone to bet. He always sits 2 seats to my left and when he does this and if he is closing the action I always bet regardless of my holding before it reaches him if it's 3 to 4 way action including him. This has worked at a very high percentage for me against him.
If you over exploit a tell, you risk it going away or counter-exploitation. Think of it as farming for tells and plant related crops, meaning look for related tells.
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Old 07-07-2017, 02:12 PM   #15
Oregon Rick
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

A tell I've seen in many people over the ears is one involving the eyes. When I am put to a tough decision, I will really stare my opponent down to see if I can force this tell out of him. A lot of people when bluffing and really nervous and getting stared down for a bit will have the following reaction:
Because they won't be breathing as well, and there body is tightening up somewhat, their eyes will become somewhat glossy like a drunk person. It's involuntary, so It's not something the person can fake. I have found this one to be quite useful. You just have to make sure that they aren't really drunk and that this change in their eyes actually happened during the hand.
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Old 07-17-2017, 01:11 PM   #16
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

As with all tells ... You need to have a basis of what they 'normally' do in order to establish the 'change' being valid.

1) Bet sizing (or lack of betting OOP when a scare card comes out)
2) Putting chips back into their stack when a scare card comes out

3) Looking down at stack when card comes out or action is on them .. for sure draw if not 'a hand' of some sort.
4) Immediately touching facial area after betting or when a bet is being put out. This is the highly touted 'comfort' tell you will see on Live at the Bike.

5) Lip pursing is pretty reliable at low limits as well ... GL
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:33 AM   #17
franklloydwright
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

one I've been paying attention to: when a player looks at their hand, if they stare at it for a long time, it's usually trash. if they quickly peek at it, its usually big
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Old 07-20-2017, 12:43 PM   #18
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

+1 on shaking hands usually meaning strong hand. Watch as their hand moves closer to the chips, there will be involuntary shaking before contact that stabilizes somewhat once they get their hand on them.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:34 AM   #19
answer20
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Actually caught my own hands shaking yesterday in a C/R semi-bluffing spot. I can fully admit that I was concerned about losing all my profit from the previous 4 hours in one hand.

I was in Seat 2 and the opponent was in Seat 7 so I don't think he noticed. Thankfully I was rewarded by the deck and didn't have to sweat the River action as my opponent basically mucked as soon as the River came out. "You were either ahead or got there." GL
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:05 AM   #20
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Preflop - before calling, glance down at the hands of the players behind you. They'll often already be getting chips ready to bet or cards ready to fold

Flop - watch faces not the flop - staring at the flop means they missed. Looking away or looking at chips means they hit

River - checking hole cards on the river then betting means they've got it. This has proven 90% reliable
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Old 10-05-2017, 02:38 PM   #21
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Good advice here. My recommendation is to just keep paying attention as much as possible. When you're not in hands, be as observant as possible, and try to rely on your intuition as you get more experience.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:24 PM   #22
Leveredplayer
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

I have had this happen to me 3 times this month so far one in MTT and twice in cash game. When a player literally leans back and crosses their arms looking super chill. Every time I am shown a bigger boat or simply a monster overpair trying to make a decision for TPTK on a dry board.

Also, the fixed betting crap on flop/turn only to bomb river because they were chasing a gutshot or FD the whole time and I failed to just listen to my gut and put the pressure on them.

This for me on the fixed betting comes mainly from OMC types or those with a spazz bet OOP hoping to not get called with a weak Ax or second pair type hand.

Just my two cents seeing if others have these same tells presented to them at the tables.
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:45 PM   #23
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TexisTanner_1787 View Post
I've heard of a new tell recently- looking at the pulse in the neck. I hear this is why so many players are now wearing scarfs.
No ... Yes ... Maybe ...

No, it's not really a new tell
Yes, it's become quite a bit more 'looked at' the last few years

There is some debate over the usefulness of this tell since players maybe nervous due to a variety of reasons ... big pot, never been in this spot before, big hand, bluffing, big draw ... or combinations of those reasons.

I think the scarf can be used to cover up a number of potential tells including swallowing, breathing, lip movement as well as pulse indicators.

Lots of old school - new school thinking here due to hoodies, glasses and just covering up in general. GL
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Old 10-15-2017, 06:27 PM   #24
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

Amount of time used to think about a hand
The way someone is holding their cards
How comfortable a player is acting in a hand their involved in
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Old 10-15-2017, 07:38 PM   #25
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Re: Easiest live tells to spot?

I find if someone quickly dismisses the flop they usually genuinely missed as long as the action was standard up to that point. Now if there's been heavy action or theyre raising and looking off into space they often are trying to pretend calm with a big hand.

Preloading a fold, i.e. holding their cards preflop in a mucking fashion. When this happens i adjust my opening range as if I am 1 seat closer to the button.

Looking at your stack. This is just a classic "how much can I win and how much should I bet" tell.

Obvious things like feigning weakness "how am I gonna get you to fold this hand? Ok I bet 9 million".

Hands shaking with a big hand.

Minraising postflop with a big hand.

Staring eagle eyed at the board with a big hand.

Staring you down intensely with a big hand (usually trying to gauge your reaction / anticipation of a call that they want)
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