We had Zach Elwood, author of the critically acclaimed book “Reading Poker Tells” answering questions from the forum recently, and we thought we’d condense his gems of wisdom into some sections. Here we have some of his examples of common tells.
“I’ve seen a lot of people ask about the most common or most useful tells. Here are my thoughts on the most useful poker tells:
Eye contact behavior after betting: the patterns people have with how much they look at someone after betting can tell you a lot. Some people will make more eye contact after bluffing, while other people will make less eye contact after bluffing. You just need to study someone in significant spots and try to see if you notice a pattern with this. For some people, they will have a reliable tendency one way or another. But it is very much a player-specific tendency and you have to study it before basing decisions on it.
Defensive chip handling tells: how people handle their chips when waiting for you to act. Some people who don’t want you to bet will subtly hold their chips or just place their hands on their chips in a way that can be interpreted as “defensive”, not wanting you to bet. There are many subtle ways that can appear, but it usually is quite useful if you can spot people who do it.
Freeze-up tells in bluffing: some people get much stiller when bluffing than they are when they value-bet. This can be pretty subtle, too; it might just be the small looseness or stillness visible in how they move their fingers, or how they move their eyes around, or if they make small facial movements. So, like everything, you need to get some baseline behavior first.”
As part of the conversation Zach was asked if there any tells for deciphering whether a blind stealer has a good hand or if he is just trying to steal my blinds?
Zach’s answer was: “People who are stealing blinds in late position often have this tendency:
Because they are ready to steal blinds before the action gets to them, they are more likely to put in a fairly immediate raise, whereas if they actually had a strong hand, they’d think about it a few seconds, trying to feign weakness. I use this tendency a good amount in late stages of tournaments to make up my decision to 3-bet resteal.
Keep in mind this won’t apply to everyone, nor will it apply 100% to one player. But it can be statistically significant enough, if you’ve observed it a few times, to make it a good spot to call with a decent hand or 3-bet bluff.”
Do you have any examples of Common Tells Zach missed out from his list? Do you have any tell you know about? How quickly do you pick up on new tells?