Every good poker player must be self-aware; that means realising all your opponents are watching you just as you should be watching them. What are people looking for in your behaviour to make their decisions on? Most people know what a ‘tell’ is, simply put it’s a reaction to the action on the table or otherwise an indication of what situation you’re in. These can manifest themselves in different ways; a classic example is the leg shake, where a player’s excitement just can’t be contained and his or her leg starts to shake. Giveaways like this indicate to your opponents that you have a good hand and so they’ll fold so knowing how to hide your tells is paramount in poker- here’s our guide:
Poker players usually have what’s known as a ‘betting structure’ that they’ll stick to throughout the game. This means that they assign a particular value to a given situation and are unlikely to deviate from it thus hiding their tells. We can easily guess that by betting way over-the-odds pre-flop our opponent has pocket Aces or another high value combination. Allowing your opponents to fold before the flop with such a large bet is a great way to win what small amount is in the pot but by backing off and allowing others to bet or just to check you can increase your chances of getting a larger pay out. This is what’s known as the ‘check raise’ and it allows you to increase the pot whilst not originally stating your position with a huge bet.
In Real Life
Now that poker has really become a worldwide internet phenomenon not that many players have the experience of ‘live play’ around a table. At home a player can scream and shout at the screen and so they become used to displaying whatever body language they like but obviously they couldn’t get away with this in a live game.
Most tells in the live game are physical. These are usually subconscious reactions to good or bad events happening within the game for example grinning like the Cheshire cat when you’ve hit your flush. The most obvious piece of advice when it comes to this is simply to practise your best ‘cool poker player’ impression and learn how to maintain it. Not showing any emotion is a cliché of poker but a very useful skill to have if you can master it, other great tips can be found by checking out a good poker blog.
Once you begin to think about your body language you will be able to adapt it to not too obviously conceal your tells. Leaning forward expectantly is a natural reaction but after playing a hundred hands in a relaxed position your body will learn to adjust to the waves of excitement.
Simon Taffy is a poker finatic with an obsession with the ultimate ‘poker face’.