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Poker Tells: Acting or Fake Tells by Poker Actors

Acting Tells

Poker is like life. It is full of actors and full of deception. This page delves into feigned poker tells we will call "acting tells."

In everyday life, people constantly wear masks. They disguise their true feelings from others and pretend to be what they are not, out of necessity or out of cunning, or both. Not all are deceitful by nature, of course, but no one can say they are completely honest and transparent ALL the time. We are all actors at least sometimes in our lives—pretending to be tough, happy, pleased, ignorant, tired, etc.

That happens in poker as well. Players pretend to be something they are not in a bid to win and take other people's money. They do not act all the time, but when they know you are watching them and your decision matters to them, it is most likely they will act. Their goal is to dupe you into doing what they need you to do. If they are bluffing, they want you to fold. If they are betting for value, they want you to call.

The Strong and Weak Principle of Tells

As a rule in poker, a show of weakness betrays a strong hand, and a show of strength means a weak hand. "Strong is weak, weak is strong" is a very reliable law of tells.

Yet this is not always the case and you should always make room for players who are exceptions to this rule. That includes you—yes, you. After all, now that you know "weak is strong, strong is weak," you will try to be different and be "weak is weak and strong is strong," right?

Poker Actors

We have three kinds of poker players based on how they act:

Novice - Beginners who know nothing about poker tells are dead giveaways. They are the easiest to read and the tells in this guide appear most consistently in them.

Experienced - Seasoned players know about tells, so they do their best to hide them. Especially if they sense you are experienced and watchful too. But even here the "weak is strong, strong is weak" rule can be relied upon a lot of the time.

Tricky - This is the toughest to read of all. To confuse you, they may act "weak is weak, strong is strong." Against less experienced players, they will be "strong is weak, weak is strong." Or they may mix these and a host of other tells up. See how deceptive poker can get?