How to read your opponents

In English the word «tell» means an action or a gesture which can give out the information on force of a hand of the contender. For example, in a live game it is possible to notice sometimes, when your opponent furiously throws counters in the bank, he always bluffs. Signals are of two types. The general signals mean confidence of certain actions for almost all the players. Individual signals mean the action specific to some certain person.

In live games there are many different gestures as you directly see the reaction of the players. Hands are trembling, the player is looking around, reddening, scratching a nose, juggling with counters, sometimes even says something, that can give out the information on his cards. Signals on the Internet concern exclusively the speed from which the contender makes rates.

Before discussing some signals, let’s consider two ways by which players does his bet, raise, call or a pass on the Internet. The most widespread and obvious way is pressing of the corresponding button when you reach your turn. Another way is to press special ticks on buttons in advance, and your course will be automatically made in your turn. For example, it is possible to choose in advance the button “check/pass” or “bet/raise” still before your turn comes. When you use such buttons your turn comes practically instantly.

At once I wish to warn about one subtle thing. If you attentively look at the list of players at the tables, and find out, that someone from contenders plays simultaneously two tables many of online signals will not work as time of his reaction will be essentially lowered. We will look now at some signals which are quite spread online.

The check after long speculations often means weakness

There are a lot of players who “think”, or wait longer than normal, and then speak the check, try to convince a table, that they have a strong card. They try to represent force by so-called “meditations” over the idea, whether they should bet. Actually, they would also like you to speak the check, and them to receive the following card free of charge. If the contender is going to make the check-raise usually he speaks the check after a normal, small pause, and then lifts the rate on your bet.

The rate after long meditations often means force.

The opponent, who “thinks” for a long time and then attacks, usually has a strong card. In this case, he tries to show weakness by “doubts”, and wants you to call.

The instant rate either raise on a turn or river often means force.

Many players are instantly putting money into the bank, or raise, they have very good card. At discussion of signals the aggressive behavior usually means weakness, but personally my experience shows, that more often in such cases the contender was really strong. Your contender thinks, that you think, that he never raised so quickly with a good card, that is he uses back psychology and lifts the rate instantly – that you have thought, as if it is weak. I think, such draw has for an object to convince you that it is necessary to make a call. Do not give such compelling on a call strategy to work against you.

If you do not know the contender, usually it is better to perceive an instant raise on the fourth or fifth card as force. This signal has different degree of clearness depending on the card that is shown. On the river instant raise almost always means nuts or a hand close to it. In the fourth street, turn, it means very strong hand though some players quickly attack on a turn with intention to check on the river. Instant raise to flop also means a strong card, especially from early and average positions, however it is difficult to classify the fast raise precisely from late positions – perhaps it’s just a localization of the contender.

I have come to the conclusion, that it is very difficult to draw a conclusion on a card of the contender, who instantly raises on the flop. Some raise on the good cards, some do on weak ones, in hope to receive the fourth card free of charge (for example, on the overcards).

The instant check often means weakness.

Many players use the button “check/pass” if they plan to throw out cards on any rate. It is especially true for players who sit at once on two tables. There are some ways of use of such signal. Let, for example, you be the last player. The first player speaks the check, the second and the third does the instant check. As two in the middle most likely, have no anything, the bluff against the first player who has checked can be very successful.

Other situation happens, when you are the player who first has told the check. If after you your contenders have instantly checked, there are quite good possibilities for a bluff on the following card. Especially well such draws take place on the big sites i.e. Paradise Poker and Party Poker, where use of the button “check/pass” is quite widespread. Also many players on these sites ply two tables at once.

Two preventions concerning this signal. Infrequently there are artful players who use the button “check/pass” for the slowed down draw of very strong hands. Secondly, between the instant check and the fast check quite a fair side lays. Use of the automatic button means intention to throw out on any rate. It is far not same that the fast check in turn. That leads us to a following signal.

The fast check often means weakness. But be afraid of the check-raise.

The fast check often means that the contender is weak, especially if in bank there are a lot of players. However, be afraid if after the fast check the player does raise! At the check-raise, most likely, you have got into a trap as the fast check has been for certain made to compel you to attack first.

Remember that all signals are only generalizations. They work well against unfamiliar contenders as you do not have any other information. If you play with one person long enough, observe his manner of rates, and, if it is desirable, write down, that happens as a result, and what card he had. Whether his manner of game under the general signals approaches? Whether he uses back psychology? Whether there are at it individual signals? Some can use buttons both for strong hands, and for a bluff so instant attack from such contenders means nothing.

As the final remark I will tell, that try not to give any signals to enemies. For this purpose there are two methods. The first one is to make your course regularly after one and the same time- always, on any card and street. Another one is to change speed of the game absolutely in a random way. For example, if the last card is of red color, do a course approximately in two seconds, and if it is black than in four seconds. This strategy can mislead observant contenders – those who search for signals … and do not find.