Poker Tells for Beginners - Golden Rule Of Poker guide to basic poker tells and reads

It's almost the stuff of legend : a mysterious stranger sits opposite you at the poker table and appears to be able to see your cards, and the cards of every other player at the table, so uncanny is their ability to "read" your hand. They fold when you have a strong hand, and call when you are bluffing. So how do they do it? Welcome to the dark art of reading poker tells...

Let's get one thing clear from the outset : whenever a tell is outlined publicly, it means it is probably too well known to be a reliable indicator of a bluff. Good players are constantly on the look out for tells that relate to a particular player, rather than tells that are universal. That said, if you are a beginner poker player then it really helps to know what the most common tells are, so that at the very least you can stop giving out tells to other players, if you are guilty of doing so at the moment. Don't forget to check out our Poker Rules For Beginners page for advice on starting hands, odds, outs etc... if you haven't already done so, and play as much poker as you possibly can to get a "feel" for your opponents before putting your tell-reading skills to the test.

Top 10 Poker Tells

Here then, in no particular order, is the Golden Rule Of Poker list of Top Ten Poker Tells:

* If a player suddenly sits absolutely still s/he's often bluffing. Conversely, if a player acts distracted and casual, not a care in the world, they quite often have the goods.

* Shaking hands and excited fumblings are usually a sign of a good hand.

If a player leans towards the cards when they are dealt s/he generally missed. A player who leans away from the table has often hit something.

If a player's eyes glance at their chips after looking at their cards, they hit their flop

If a player stacks their chips messily they are often an aggressive player. Conversely, if a player stacks their chips very neatly they are often quite tight.

If a player calls reluctantly, for example with a sigh, or shake of the head, they often have a monster hand.

A player who checks their hole cards after the flop comes suited in Texas Hold Em is generally checking the suit for flush potential. This means their cards aren't suited.

If a player has lots of small denomination chips, it often means s/he has been stealing blinds.

If a player bets a hand with lots of small chips rather than one big chip, it often means s/he isn't sure about the hand and can be bluffed off.

A player who breaks a large chip into "change" of lower denominations before they really need to is almost always a tight player.

Remember : what you now know, lots of other experienced players almost know. That means they can "double-bluff" by deliberately displaying these "tells" to deceive you. Use this tells guide against beginner players, or to cure your own subconcious tells, and to give you extra information on marginal decisions. Don't use them as the entire basis for your poker strategy - that should remain playing good hands aggressively.

Beginner players should take a look at our Poker Rules For Beginners page for advice on rules and starting hands.

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