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Online Poker Tells - Part 2

Pardon, Your Aces are Showing:
Online Poker Tells - Part 2

In Online Poker Tells - Part 1 I explained how to become more inscrutable in cyberspace by eliminating any inadvertent timing tells you might have. If you've absorbed the lessons of Part 1, you've stopped using those very convenient but all too "telling" pre-action buttons. Hopefully, you're also making a conscious effort to take the same amount of time for each and every online poker action, since any predictable pattern in your timing gives far too much information away to savvy opponents.

So far, so good. Eliminating any timing tells of your own is a big first step. But now it's time to become the hunter rather than the hunted, to spot your opponents' timing tells and other online tells and turn them to your advantage.

To get you off to a good start, let's first broaden your knowledge of the online tell universe. If your awareness of tells has previously been limited to only those clues picked up from opponent mannerisms in live physical games, you've been missing a lot of information unique to internet poker, specifically, that generated by online tells. Of course, if you haven't played online much, you may have a question at this point:

What's an online tell?

For online games, we need a definition of an online tell that goes beyond the physical. I offer the following: An online tell is an online preference or playing habit indicating a player's likely hand or how the player may play this or other hands." By this definition, you don't have to "see" or "hear" a player in person to spot a tell. You just stay alert for anything distinctive or habitual in someone's internet play.

For example, if a player habitually uses the "Raise Any in Turn" pre-action button whenever he has a big hand, and also uses "Fold/Check in Turn", whenever he has rags, those are two glaring online tells. If he acts ahead of you, you'll know to respect his pre-clicked bets and raises by folding all but your very best hands, but to bet after him with little or even nothing at all if he auto-checks when you're heads-up.

Sometimes you can even use this strategy against more than one opponent. If you're in late position and rapid checks from pre-action buttons ahead of you indicate that nobody has anything, you might just take the pot with a bet, no matter what cards you hold.

As an exception to my advice against using pre-action buttons, you might try a well-timed "reverse-tell". To do so, lie in the weeds with a strong hand by clicking your "Check in Turn" or "Check/Call Any" button when you're up front or in middle position. This will give you the perfect opportunity to check-raise when someone behind you bets. The maneuver works best when you've noticed an aggressive player in late position who always bets if rat-a-tat-tat checks have made him believe nobody else has anything.

Auto-posting tells:

Online poker offers the convenience of auto-posting your blinds or antes. When players use this feature, the game is considerably faster. Although you should avoid giving unnecessary information through the use of the other pre-action buttons, it's considered rude not to auto-post.

That said, here are a few auto-posting tells:
· Failure to auto-post indicates either an internet newbie or the opposite - someone savvy who intends to play only a round or two. Beware of the latter, especially in a pot-limit or no-limit game: he or she may be looking for just one good hand to make a quick score.
· A player who has been auto-posting all along but suddenly stops is usually preparing to leave the game. This is especially true if he's been winning in a pot-limit game. Beware if such a player bets or raises, for he's likely to be ultra-cautious in protecting his profits. If he gets involved, assume he's got the goods.
· A player who has just stopped auto-posting and is also otherwise taking too much time to act is not only preparing to leave but has become quite inattentive to the game. This player may have just entered a higher limit game or a tournament. If you find yourself heads-up, aggressive play on your part will often take the pot.

By Kathleen K. Watterson


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