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Poker Tells: Betting, Tricks and Sounds Tells

This final part on acting tells covers several kinds of tells: betting acts, odd moves and audible tells. To learn more about poker tells, see the other lessons on poker tells.

Betting Moves

Do not forget about betting moves. These are the most direct tells of all as these are the "official" moves a player makes. Listen to their voices, look into their eyes and watch their hands.

- Generally, forceful bets betray weakness. Relaxed bets mean convey strength.

- A confident voice means weakness. A sigh is the opposite: strength.

- Bluffers try to be as invisible as possible when no betting. But when they bet they try to look tough since they can't hide.

- A player with a strong hand may bet forcefully too, perhaps to provoke a bet. The difference is that a bluffer directs their aggression on a particular opponent they want to get a bet from, whereas a player who isn't bluffing focuses on a specific player.

- When a player stretches out his arm to bet, almost straightening the arm, it is probably a bluff. If the fingers extend to draw your attention, that is also a sign of that they are bluffing.

- On the other hand, when a player bets naturally, without stretching out their arm or displaying their fingers, it indicates a strong hand. Very rarely does a gentle bet turn out to be a bluff. A bluffer may bet gently only if they think that intimidating you would provoke a bet.


- When someone gets your attention by behaving strangely, they are tempting you to make a bet. Disappoint them by passing, unless you are happy about your hand.

- When a player prepares to bet even before seeing the last card, it is a ploy. They want you to think they will make the bet regardless of the final card because they already made their hand earlier. Caro says this tell means a strong hand and that the player is trying to lure a call.


Think you can pick up poker tells with your eyes closed? Yes, you can.

- Sad sounds and sighs mean powerful hands. Confident voices are bluffing.

- Questions about the rules of the game and betting size are often done by players who've landed great hands.

- Beware of clacking sounds. This is the "tsk, tsk" sound and one of those "sad sounds" that betray strength. You don't want to hear a poker player making this sound. Save your bets if you hold anything other than the nuts. This is what Caro calls "Pokerclack."

- One audible tell that can hardly be faked is breathing. Holding one's breath is usually a sign of bluffing.