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Poker Tells: Various Poker Tells

In this last part of the natural tells section, you will learn about various poker tells including instinctive response, talking and other physical gestures.

Instant Reaction

Instant response is done when people act without thinking. The looser a player is, and the less experienced, the more apt they are to act on impulse. This makes them predictable.

- When community cards or drawn cards hit and a player quickly checks, you can be sure the new cards did not help them at all. The hand is totally off.

- If new cards hit and someone bets instantly, the new cards helped. A bluffer takes a while because they have to calculate the risks first.


- More often than not, a player who blows cigarette smoke has a good hand. But this is not always the case.


- A player who, from the start, does not chat with other players, is focused on the game.

- When a player is very attentive at first, and then at some point talks freely with others, it can mean they have made their hand. They are confident of winning and feel no need to watch everything on the table. Regardless of who bets, folds or calls, they are sure they will win, so why watch?

- When a player is focused when normally they talk, they are focused on their hand, and may be on a drawing hand. They may also be bluffing, but then it would be an "act" instead of a mannerism or natural tell. Bluffing players often try to be as still as possible.

- When a player is friendly, they are apt to be bluffing. Bluffing players will not try to incite a bet by making you angry. On the other hand, if an opponent wants you to call, they may try to annoy you to induce a bet.

Facial Expression

- A smile cannot be faked. A genuinely smiling face hides a lurking monster.


- Covering the mouth or placing the hand near the mouth may be a sign of deception. The bluffer is doing it unconsciously. This holds unless the player does this habitually.


- Slumped shoulders often betray lack of confidence or interest.

Tapping, Whistling & Other Mannerisms

- When a player has the habit of tapping feet or hands, whistling and so on, and suddenly they stop, they are either bluffing or focused on the hand. Bluffers are concerned about being discovered and are careful to watch themselves.

Focused players need to concentrate on the hand. The difference is that bluffers try to look intimidating and go out of their way to "act." (See lessons on acting tells.) Players on drawing hands will not try to intimidate you unless they plan a semi-bluff.