Online Tells –Timing Really Matters

What are poker tells? They are usually defined as a blinking of an eye, twitch of the nose, or any other non-verbal body language clues that help you guess your opponent’s hand. Poker masters can often be heard telling about making a correct read on a player based solely on a tell that they detected.

That's understandable when you're playing in a brick and mortar poker room, but when it comes to online poker, it becomes a totally different task trying to figure out online tells.

Online poker is better than its offline analogue in many aspects, but one of the few disadvantages is the fact that it is much more difficult to make a read on a player. In a traditional poker setting you can take your time to study a player, beginners usually reveal a lot of information about their hand simply by how comfortable, or uneasy, they look. Even professional players can sometimes give you a clue as to their cards. Online poker can’t give you such opportunities. Players hide their emotions behind their computer screen, and while there they can be anticipating victory with a thrill and exultancy of a primeval man, or turning away from the board fearing their bluff any given second, and you wouldn’t suspect anything.

Online Tells –Timing is the Key to Victory

There is one kind of tell that is characteristic to the online poker, and that’s the timing of players’ actions. Working it out is not an exact science; it’s rather an art form that can be mastered. As with any poker game, it takes a lot of experience.

Some players drop timing tells from consideration as undependable, as you cannot be 100% sure that the player is in fact paying attention. However, this point of view can be easily refuted by two arguments. Firstly, as soon as players enter a hand, they will be typically paying attention so that missed seconds can be accounted for. Secondly, the most reliable timing tells are when a player acts unusually fast. In practice, the quicker an action the more precise a timing tell. If you see that your opponent’s playing decision takes more than several seconds, unless it’s a critical decision, then it can mean that the player’s attention was diverted.

The basic timing tell should be understood logically. If your opponents make the game decision very fast, it’s usually because they have unimportant or no decision to make. Here are two situations when this can help you figure out the player’s hand. Weak poker players are mostly passive with their draws. Thus, when you bet on the flop or turn, and a player of this type immediately calls, you can safely assume that he has a draw. He doesn’t like raising draws, which is why he doesn’t need time to consider raising. In addition, he doesn’t bother calculating the odds he is being offered, so folding isn’t something he would consider. Thus, an instant call on a drawy board made by such players nearly always means a draw.

Another situation is when your opponent bets out too fast when a scare card arrives. If he is an aggressive player, there is a high probability that it’s just a bluff. However, this kind of tell should be taken into account along with other factors. Let’s assume a LAG is raising before the flop in position. He makes a bet on the flop and you decide to call, holding two hearts on the flop. The turn is one more heart. A fast bet in this case is probably a bluff because a LAG with a weak hand has a strong inclination to win the pot. He is not in the habit of giving up the pot by checking. If he had a strong hand, like aces, it would take him longer to consider the implications of the heart. A bet after a pause is much more likely to be a flush. If the player who doesn’t know all the ins and outs of poker takes a long pause before betting, there is a high chance that he has

something really strong. Most players of such type erroneously think that by pausing they are under representing their hand, having no idea that a long pause before a raise screams strength!

These are just two typical instances that should be looked out for. In fact, there are many more situations which can help you guess what kind of hands your opponents have. Still, to master timing tells you need to know all the players very well. If you take the trouble of remembering all those subtleties in their behavior, you’ll discover that each player has their own individual timing tells. If you manage to understand their natural rhythm, you’ll achieve better results. There is a high probability that the same player will think about the same kind of game decisions in approximately the same amount of time. The longer it takes to make a decision the more trains of thoughts his mind is following. Depending on the situation this can tell you a lot about the strength of his hand.

To do it correctly you need to have a complete understanding of a player’s behavior, and be able to detect the mood he is in. If a TAG is on tilt, his play will differ from the play he showed earlier in the sessions, including his speed of making decisions. Likewise a player who has just won a huge pot will typically have their mood changed so that their play and judgment becomes totally different. If you spot the motive for a player, you can better understand the rhythm of their thought patterns. Grabby or tilting players make instant decisions!

Although online poker can’t give you a chance to read the body language of other players, there is still a great deal of information available to those who are vigilantly attentive. This information can be used to build a clear picture of other players’ hand. Used commonsensibly and with cognizance that professional players might ‘fake’ their tells on purpose to confuse you, such tells can significantly increase your profits. As your experience grows, such online poker tells as speed of bets will help you build the pots.