Online Poker Tells
Poker is a game of incomplete information, but can get additional information by observing your opponents tells. A tell is a change in a player's behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player's assessment of his hand. These clues can be invaluable, as they will help you determine the strength of your opponents hand. When playing online poker you can not see your opponents and pick up on any physical tells that you could when playing live poker. Therefore, you will need to pick up on nonphysical tells. You can get nonphysical tells from your opponents speed of play, betting patterns, and player chat.
One of the most reliable speed of play tells is when your opponent instantly checks. Players often use the automatic check/fold box and it is easy to tell when they do because they will check the split second that the action is on them. This is a sign of weakness and your opponent likely does not have a strong hand.
When a player takes a lot of time before checking they either have a strong hand and they are trying to decide how much to bet, they want to check raise, or they are trying to represent a strong poker hand. When they are trying to represent a strong hand they are hoping that by appearing strong you will not bet and they can see a free card. They would do this when they are on a straight or flush draw.
When your opponent takes a long time before raising they are usually very strong. They are trying to appear unsure about their poker hand. This is a pretty reliable tell, but they could also do this to bluff if they were on a draw and missed it. If there weren't any draws before the river then they most likely have a very strong hand.
Your opponents speed of play is the easiest and most frequent online poker tell but your opponent might just have a poor internet connection, be distracted by watching television while they play, or they might be playing on a lot of tables. These are all factors that could cause your opponent to make a delayed check or bet. If they are being disconnected a lot then they don't have a good internet connection and you can't rely on delayed tells. Your opponent could be slow to act because they are playing on a lot of tables and their attention isn't focused only on your table. You can find out how many tables they are playing on by doing a player search in the lobby of the poker room. This is a good idea before relying on delayed tells.
In limit poker games a player can select the raise any box. You can tell when this box is selected much like the check/fold box because your opponent will act the split second action is on them. This is a sign of a very strong hand.
This tell can be very reliable, but you have play enough hands with your opponent to pick up on their betting patterns. Most novice players will determine their bet size by the strength of their hand. If they have a strong hand like aces or kings they may always bet 5 times the big blind, while a hand like AK they might always bet 3 times the big blind, and marginal hands they might limp or min bet. Betting patterns will vary from player to player, but if your able to notice a pattern you will be able to determine your opponents hand range based on how much they bet. Good players will either bet the same amount no matter what two cards they hold or they will vary their betting patterns by betting less from time to time with good hands and more from time to time with bad hands.
Most players don't chat much, but when they do you can sometimes get tells from what they say. When a player starts complaining a lot you can tell that they are on tilt and will likely be playing loose. If you come across a player who was constantly chatting in the chat box and all of a sudden stops they may have a good hand and be concentrating on their poker hand.
From free poker games to high stakes games there are players giving off tells. The higher the stakes the less reliable the tells are. When you start playing against good poker players they will at times give off false tells to trick their opponents. Online poker tells are most reliable at low limit stakes were there are not as many good players.