In Poker, a Tell is a subtle but significant change in the behavior of a player that indicates the player's assessment of his or her hand. A knowledge of poker tells can help a player go far in the game and know when to call and when to fold.
Understanding poker tells is possible by a detailed analysis of any behavior, physical reaction or habit that provides other players with some information about the cards in a player's hand. These are just general guidelines that enable you to understand the body language of poke player, but there are many exceptions and contradictions to poker tells and each depends on the individual.
Some tips to understanding poker tells are as follows:
Facial expressions - Having a weak hand brings an expression of unhappiness and if the hand is strong, the face will show the confidence. There are many players who wear a cap while playing and look down to avoid being read by opponents.
Watch the Eyes - It is a common saying that the eyes don't lie and it is easy to take advantage of it while playing poker. This is the reason why many players wear sunglasses or caps while playing. It is easy to judge the cards by the way player looks at his hand. Most of the players stare at big hole cards.
Anxiety - When people expect confrontations, they tend to get anxious, leading to some physical changes such as eye pupil dilation, flexing of muscles, a dry throat and a palpitating heart. This is also known as the 'Fight or Flight' stimulus response. While playing poker, if a player gets a big hand, he is ready for confrontation and may exhibit some of these symptoms. The voice pitch may become higher while making a comment or the chest may expand abnormally. Poker professionals notice the vein on the forehead for any change in the blood pressure. But, it is also easy to bluff and demonstrate anxiety.
Faking It - This is mainly applicable to novice players. Basically, players try to deceive when they have an exceptional hand. For a monster hand, they will try to look disinterested and on the other hand, while running a bluff, they may try to look intimidating by speaking loudly while raising the pot.
Glance at Chips - This tell is also related to the eyes. A subconscious reaction by players when planning an attack is to glance at their chips.
Trembling Hands - This also happens due to anxiety and usually represents a big hand or a very bad one.
Stacking Chips - It is good to observe the ways different players stack their chips. Conservative players keep their chips in well-organized and neat stacks whereas aggressive players usually have sloppy and unorganized stacks.
Body Posture - Most of the players make some obvious changes in their body posture depending upon the strength of their hand. When not confident, their shoulders slump or drop indicating a weak hand. And if the player is sitting attentively in an erect position, this indicates a strong hand. Bluffing players usually lean forward as in confrontation.
Betting Patterns- Some of the players regularly fold after being re-raised and some players always check when they make the nuts.
Holding Breath- Novice players usually hold their breath while bluffing.
It is very easy for experienced players to give false tells hence the first thing to notice regarding other players if whether they are pros or novices.