I am going to begin to make a list of poker tells. Now a disclaimer is necessary, no tell is correct 100% of the times. A tell is only useful if it either allows you to bluff the player out of the pot or makes you call with a hand weaker than you otherwise wouldn’t. I will try to rate each tell on their risk level (amount of money you must invest to make the bluff), level of game they occur in (one tell in a 15-30 game may mean something completely different in a 3-6 game), percentage of times the tell is correct. This section is going to help you find what to look for. It’s going to be your job to analyse them in your own games and see which ones are most relevant for you.
It’s very important that you make a solid play the majority of the game. If you don’t have respect at the table or your opponents are not going to fold their hands, these or any bluffs success rates are very low and not worth attempting in the long run. However used very sparingly, even if you get caught, they will make you extra bets when you have the stone cold nuts. The small number of pots that your going to win because of your bluffs minus the number of times you get caught should be profitable. But if you bluff too often you can lose all the money in front of you.
The psychology behind many tells is that they are unconscious movements or gestures. Those are the easy tells. The more frequent tells are when they DON’T do something. This could be that a player talks all the time during a hand and now they have made a bet and they are very quiet. This is usually the result of large amounts of adrenaline going through their body. It also causes their hands to shake, face or ears to turn red, blood vessels in throat to visibly pulse, large amounts of saliva to be produced (player then must swallow), or as a result when a person is talking they suddenly chock up because of all the saliva. The problem with these tells is that the adrenaline is caused sometimes when a player has a big bluff or sometimes when they have a monster and don’t want people to fold. These are things that don’t have a formula they will only become obvious when you’ve played many hands of poker. But taking note of them every time they happen and remembering what the player had will help you to pick up on these things faster.
1) Dropping poker chips during a bet
My first and most favourite tell for a live game is; Dropping of poker chips during a bet. If they are dropping chips during a call its not useful information. I would rate this success rate at about 80%. This means they are very unconfident in their hand however they wont always fold. Things that affect the accuracy of this bluff are the limit of the game they are playing in. The higher the limit of game the more accurate the tell. If a person is a beginner at using chips they are going to drop chips often. What you are going to want to do is quickly re-raise them and make sure you pay attention to their reaction. they should look very angry but make sure they don’t look like they are making a crying call ( Call which they feel they are losing but they are always going to call to the river-AKA if you have aces and the flop is 9-K-K). Your going to want to make sure that the flop has limited number of draws because if they improve their hand they may still call you. Now this bluff is going to have a high amount of risk. Even though it is correct a large percentage of the time it’s going to cost you several bets to win the hand.
2) Long pause before a river check
One of the most profitable tells is the long check before a river check. This will mean two things they are scared of something that came on the river or they want you to think they are scared of something. Usually if they are really scared they quickly pause and then check because they did have a good hand and are a good player then they would have already have thought of what they are going to do if a “bad” card such as a 3rd flush card, comes out on the river. So what they are usually trying to do is to get you to check behind them to either save a bet or if on the turn get a free card. I would put the accuracy of this bluff at 70%. The information is usually correct but it doesn’t mean that their going to fold. All it says is that they don’t want you to bet. Then nice part about this bet is that its a small investment that will have a high success rate of winning the pot. It will also tell you that if you have a reasonably good hand and a scare card comes on the river and they pause long then check they are trying to say they made their hand. If they really did they would have either bet or checked quickly so they can check raise you. This is a perfect place to make a value bet. You are probably going to get called so if you bet you are marginally hand you will usually have them beat by just a little bit. That extra bet is pure profit through skill.
3) When someone does not use the auto raise buttons in late position
There is lots of tells with these buttons, but here is one thing to help you in your blinds. The situation is for the people that are on either the button or one away from it during your big blind. Pay attention to those people and weather or not they use the auto raise button. If they don’t then this lesson won’t apply. If they do use them often your going to want to pay attention to the times they don’t. The less times they don’t use the buttons the stronger the confidence for the tell. If everyone has folded to them and it pauses on them for just a second then they raise it usually means that they have at best a marginal hand. If it goes to them and they pause for a few seconds its to make you think they have nothing and they may be very strong. This is a high-risk bluff because it calls for you to 3 bet them either right away or to raise them on the flop no matter what comes out. Also you are out of position during the entire hand, which is never good. This may result in forcing bets again on the turn and river as a result a high investment to win two small bets and stop the stealing of the blinds. I would never recommend this in a medium or low limit game, only games where the river is shown less than 75% of the time.