How to Spot a Tell in Online Poker

Poker has changed massively in the last two years in the US.

Casinos represent over $240 billion in revenue in the US alone, so it takes a lot for it to change how they do things. However, as reported, the pandemic forced every casino and gaming hall to close last year. This pushed the industry’s millions of players toward online avenues. Online poker was one of the areas that grew exponentially as a result.

There are few people who aren’t at least somewhat familiar with how to play poker. highlights how poker is one of the world’s most popular pastimes, with millions of players across the world. With such a wide player base, it is no surprise that the pandemic has spurred online poker into another boom similar to what it saw during the early part of the 20th Century when Chris Moneymaker took the crown at the World Series of Poker.

Online poker poses a few difficulties, however. Unlike playing face to face, it can be difficult to pick up on the social cues that make poker such a strategic game. There is no reason to have a “poker face” when no one can actually see it, after all. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to pick up on people’s behavior even behind a keyboard. Here are a few ways that people’s tells can translate across the screen and how to notice them.

Pre-Selected folding/checking

Pre-Selected folding checking

If a player instantly reacts to a bet when it is their turn to act, it probably means that they have used a pre-selected reaction to their hands. This means that they don’t want to throw more money into the pot with their hand and it can be an easy one to spot and, if you’re in the right position, take advantage of.

When players have the Big Blind, it means they have already put the standard bet into the pot before the cards are dealt. Most often they will fold if their cards aren’t worth chasing rather than spend more money chasing the pot. So if you’re just before them in the turn order and no one has raised or joined the pot, you can throw in a decent bet out there to scare everyone else off. It will net you a small pot for very little risk or effort.

Instantaneous Raises

Instantaneous Raises

Most people don’t use this feature for obvious reasons, but it is worth noting it here. Just like in the face-to-face game, players in online poker will often raise when they have a strong hand, but they can also use a pre-selected raise feature to automatically do so when their turn comes around. If you see someone throw a raise out as soon as the turn comes around to them, it is likely a sign that they have a strong hand and want to grow the pot.

The smart thing to do is to fold when you see this happen. While it can sometimes be a bluff, the risk seldom outweighs the reward in these situations. Chances are they have a good hand and are secretly hoping that someone calls them so they can get even more money. No sense in chasing a losing hand, after all.



One way that online poker is different from regular poker is that players can be at multiple tables, playing different hands at the same time. This is likely to cause their attention to be split greatly and can lead to some poor decision making on their part, especially when it comes to reacting to other people’s bets.

When a player is making decisions very slowly, often folding at unusual times or making poor bets, check to see if they are multi-tabling. If the site you’re playing on doesn’t have a “Find Player” feature, you can look around at tables with similar limits and sizes and see if you recognize their username. Use this to your advantage by knowing they are less likely to bluff with a poor hand as they have to make decisions quickly and get back to other tables. They are far more likely to make direct, simple plays throughout the game so you can read them more openly than before.

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