Online Poker Tells

Just as they can ruin a player's game in a real world setting, poker tells can effectively destroy an online players stack in no time. By knowing the tells, you will know what to watch for, as well as know what not to do while playing online yourself. Here are some of the most common online poker tells:

    Speed of Play

    Just as the rules of opposites works while playing a face to face game, it also works while playing online. If a player is slow to make a decision, he is trying to portray weakness in his hand. He wants you to think that he's uncertain of what he should do next. The rule of opposites tells us, however, that he likely has a good – or winning – hand. Be weary of players who seem to take just a little longer than expected in making their decisions; they could be trying to mask good cards.

    On the opposite side of things, however, if a player makes a very quick call or raise, he may be behind in the hand and is trying to steal it away by portraying an image of strength. If a player makes a rather fast action during a hand, he is likely in a position of weakness, trying to show strength. Don't be intimidated by his quick play; just play your hand like you should, and take the pot – along with the chips – away from him.

    Instant Buttons

    Unlike when playing in a brick-and-mortar establishment, such as a casino or bar, players online have the option of checking an action that will ensue once the turn comes to them. These buttons are called instant buttons. Instant buttons offer great tells on bad players. You can spot whenever a player has checked an instant button because their action comes within the blink of an eye.

    When a player instantly checks, you can often surmise that the player has a weak hand. The fact is, players seem to get lazy online. When they have a weak hand, especially early on in play, they become uninterested. Often times, they'll use the instant check so they can move onto something else – perhaps another table or game they're currently playing at. If you notice a player who has instantly checked, they are probably weak, and will fold to any bet made.

    In a player has checked an instant call button, he may be on a nut draw. If you notice that he may have completed his draw, you may want to back off on the betting.

    When a player instant checks on the next round of betting, they may have either picked up a draw, or, if it's on the river, not completed one. Even if you're bluffing, it may be a good idea to make a bet and try to steal the pot. Every little bit helps.


    This tell works just as it does around the poker table. Generally, if a player who is usually very chatty becomes quiet very quickly, he may have picked up a good hand and is trying to get maximum value for it. On the opposite side of things, however, if you notice a player who is betting becomes very lively in the chatbox, he may be trying to show confidence, hoping you'll fold.

    Also, be on the lookout for players who are venting just after a bad beat. When players become emotional at the table, they lose their concentration. If a player is excessively and apparently angry, he may be on tilt. Use this to your full advantage.

« More poker guides or show all guides Page last updated: 22 May 2009

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